Judges Slap Down EPA Not 1, Not 2, But 3 Times

Mar 27, 2012

In a string of unrelated but equally remarkable cases, in the last week three, separate federal courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court – have taken the EPA to task for regulatory overreach. We’ve already blogged about Sackett v. EPA and Mingo Logan Coal v. EPA. In the most recent of these cases – decided yesterday – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the EPA "had no legal basis” for disapproving 2006 air quality regulations promulgated by the state of Texas as part of its duty under the Clean Air Act to adopt and administer a plan for implementing federal air quality standards.

In other words, the EPA tried to usurp the regulatory authority given to the states by the Clean Air Act – just one more part of the EPA’s misguided efforts to try and make it more expensive and more difficult to operate existing utilities, including coal-fired power plants (making it harder to include coal as part of our diverse energy mix is a recurring theme – today the EPA is proposing new regulations that essentially ban new coal power plants). The case is Luminant Energy Generation Co. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. EPA.

You can check out all three opinions on www.chamberlitigation.com, the website for the Chamber’s public policy law firm, the National Chamber Litigation Center.

Spoiler alert: the EPA doesn’t fare well in any of these opinions. As a teaser, in Sackett v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously said that the EPA was “strong-arming” regulated parties; in Luminant Generation Co., et al. v. EPA the Fifth Circuit ruled that EPA had “overstepped the bounds” of its authority; and in Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. EPA, the D.C. District Court described the EPA as engaging in “magical thinking.”

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