Supreme Court denies Schuette’s EPA challenge

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday quietly rejected Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette’s latest effort to block new Obama administration regulations limiting emissions of mercury and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Schuette won his initial challenge last year when the nation’s highest court ruled 5-4 that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to consider the cost of its Clean Air Act regulation before imposing the rule.

Michigan and 20 other states in March asked the Supreme Court to step in again after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit left the emissions rule in place rather than vacating it, giving the EPA time to comply with the earlier ruling by determining the rule is “appropriate and necessary” despite the cost.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case, offering no comment or explanation in doing so. The court, short one justice after the February death of Antonin Scalia, considered the request last week in conference.

“The United States Supreme Court correctly awarded Michigan a victory last year in this case of unconstitutional federal overreach,” Schuette’s spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said in a statement.

“The EPA blatantly refused to follow that ruling, requiring us to return to the (Supreme Court). We are very disappointed in the post-Scalia court’s decision this year to not enforce Michigan’s victory.”

Michigan was among several states and industry groups that have attempted to halt the plan, arguing that utilities and their consumers should not have to bear the costs of installing and operating pollution-scrubbing equipment while the parties continued to litigate.

Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League for Conservation Voters, called Schuette’s legal efforts block the EPA regulations a “campaign against clean air” and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“The Supreme Court’s decision sends a clear message to Schuette: Stop standing in the way of common-sense safeguards that are designed to protect Michigan families from toxic chemicals,” Wozniak said in a statement.