The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled against an Obama administration's environmental initiative to limit the emissions toxic pollutants from power plants.
The court decided to stop the implementation of Mercury and Air Toxic Standards introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2011, finding it faulty for deeming "cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants".
The regulation required hundreds of coal-burning power plants to install equipment to control mercury emissions – believed to cause several illnesses including developmental problems in children.
Challengers to the regulations include several industrial companies and dozens of states with Republican governors, including Michigan, which brought the lawsuit.
Writing for the 5-4 majority decision, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the EPA estimated the regulation would annually cost power plants $9.6 billion.
"The agency could not fully quantify the benefits of reducing power plants’ emissions of hazardous air pollutants; to the extent it could, it estimated that these benefits were worth $4 to $6 million per year," he added.
An impact analysis by the EPA calculates an indirect saving from the regulation of between $37 and $90 billion coming from preventing health-related issues and deaths stemming from pollution.
The agency had set a 2016 deadline for power plants to comply with the regulation, with many reportedly already implementing the regulation.
By Kasim Ileri