Supreme Court rules against EPA | CraigDailyPress.com

Supreme Court rules against EPA

Patrick Kelly

The Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency incorrectly interpreted the Clean Air Act by setting limits on emissions from power plants without considering costs to the industry. Officials of Craig Station, a coal-fired power plant operated by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, have closely been watching what happens with the EPA and President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday morning that the Environmental Protection Agency incorrectly interpreted the Clean Air Act by setting limits on emissions from power plants without considering costs to the industry.

Justice Antonin Scalia, one of five Supreme Court justices supporting the decision, delivered the opinion of the court. Four of the nine justices dissented.

The ruling is a result of the Michigan v. EPA case, where the court considered limits on mercury, arsenic and acid gases emitted by coal-fired power plants, known as mercury and air toxics (MATS).

According to the court, "EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants."

Northwest Colorado is home to two coal-fired power plants — Craig Station, which is operated by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, and Hayden Generating Station, owned by Xcel Energy.

"Xcel Energy was prepared for MATS, and is better prepared overall to meet a growing number of environmental requirements, thanks to ongoing efforts to cost effectively modernize our system and invest in clean energy," Gabriel Romero, media relations representative for Xcel Energy, wrote in an email.

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Hayden Station receives coal from Twentymile Mine, which is located near the power plant.

Twentymile Mine, owned by Peabody Energy, filed an amicus brief supporting the petitioners and was represented by Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor known for expertise in constitutional law.

Tribe was unavailable for comment.

Lee Boughey, senior manager of corporate communications and public affairs for Tri-State, wrote in an email that Tri-State is pleased with the court's ruling.

"It is imperative for regulators to consider costs as they determine whether regulations are appropriate and necessary… The court's direction to review costs could ultimately provide compliance benefits and cost reductions at our generating facilities," he wrote.

Brandi Meek, Moffat County GOP chair, wrote in an email that Moffat County is still on the defense.

"This is a big win for the 21 states involved in this lawsuit, and energy users everywhere. Moffat County should be proud, but cautious… There are people out there who will not rest until the coal industry has been destroyed," she wrote.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com.