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The Supreme Court of the United States decided today to block the rules of the Government of President Barack Obama to limit emissions from power plants that use coal.
With five votes in favor and four against, the Supreme Court invalidated the emission regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not taking into account in its determinations the cost that electricity companies would incur.
The new regulation, approved in 2011 and in operation since last April, limited for the first time the emissions of mercury, arsenic and acid gases from thermal plants that use coal.
Opponents of the US energy industry criticized the regulations for being one of the most burdensome ever imposed on the sector.
Cost and benefits
The EPA estimated that the regulation would cost about $ 9.6 billion and bring between $ 37 and $ 90 billion in long-term benefits, in addition to preventing 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 cases of asthma annually.
The Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, determined that the EPA failed to comply with the "Clean Air" law by not taking into account the costs of the new regulations in the industry, something that the agency said would not be decisive when imposing new regulations.
After knowing the ruling, the spokesman for the White House, Josh Earnest, trusted that the Supreme Court's decision will not affect the application of the law, which sets the conditions for the Administration to regulate polluting industries.
"Obviously, we are disappointed by the result" of the court ruling, Earnest admitted during his daily press conference, insisting that "there is no reason" for the ruling to prevent the development of the aforementioned rule.
The Supreme Court justices were divided this time between the four liberal courts (Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and the five conservative ones (Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy) .
The judges' opinion in favor of maintaining the regulations argued that the EPA did take into account the costs of implementation at a later stage of the regulation's processing.
Since the new emission standards for thermal plants were put in place, most power companies have closed or adapted their facilities to catch up with the requirements.
Now, the EPA can reissue a new regulation taking into account the cost-benefit analysis from the beginning.
Earnest explained that the implementation of the regulation now invalidated by the Supreme Court continues to be a "priority" for President Barack Obama "due to the health benefits it has," although the EPA will be the one to define the new strategy.
The National Mining Association celebrated today in a statement that “common sense that has been lost in most of the regulations of this Administration” has been imposed.
For its part, the Environmental Defense Fund said that this decision is "unfortunate" and puts families in danger.