EPA Head Sees Limited Impact From Supreme Court Mercury Decision

(Bloomberg) — Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling
against a plan to cut mercury pollution will have only limited
impact as utilities are already moving to comply, the
Environmental Protection Agency head said Tuesday.

In her first extensive remarks after the court’s June 29
decision, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy described its legal
underpinning as “very narrow” and not a threat, either to the
plan to cut mercury and other air toxics or a separate effort to
reduce carbon dioxide in response to climate change.

The court, in a 5-4 decision, said that the EPA should have
considered the costs and benefits of its plan before deciding to
impose the limits.

“The majority of power plants have already decided and
invested in their path to achieving compliance with those
mercury and air toxic standards,” McCarthy said at a Washington
event held by the Christian Science Monitor.

She said eventually the rule would be implemented.

“There’s very compelling reasons for the utilities to
continue to treat this as a requirement, and I think you’ll see
them doing that,” she said.

McCarthy also predicted the Clean Power Plan, the Obama
administration’s signature effort to combat climate change, will
hold up to court challenges.

“We’re very good at writing rules and defending them in
court, and this will be no exception,” she said.

A draft anticipated emissions cuts from power plants by 30
percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. McCarthy said the
final rule will be released this summer. She said public
perception has shifted in favor of action on climate change, and
called the recent encyclical from Pope Francis urging action a
“game changer.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jim Snyder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at
Steve Geimann

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