Judges suggest court not ready to kill EPA pollution rule

A federal appeals court doesn't appear ready to bring down the hammer on the Environmental Protection Agency's costly mercury and air pollutant rules.

Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals told a state lawyer, asking the court to vacate the rule on Friday, that the bulk of industry says it would be disruptive "if we were to do anything more than remand" the rule back to EPA, so it can do a cost assessment. Other judges hearing oral arguments Friday also appeared to share Garland's concerns that killing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants would be premature.

The court held oral arguments Friday on the rule after the Supreme Court ruled last summer that the EPA did not have the discretion not to assess the high cost of the rules before they were implemented in 2010.

The D.C. Circuit Court had ruled in favor of the EPA in a previous state-and-industry lawsuit seeking to squash the MATS rule, which led to the appeal to the high court. The Supreme Court heard the case, but only the narrow issue of cost. It did not examine other aspects of the rule.

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