On April 15, 2014, the D.C. Circuit rejected all challenges to EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule, which limits mercury, acid-gas, and heavy-metal pollution from coal and oil-fired power plants.The rule applies to 1,400 of the country's power plants (mostly coal) and will go into effect in 2015 or 2016.
The Clean Air Act empowers EPA to regulate these pollutants if the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs. The petitioners, which included about two dozen states, argued that complying with the MATS rule would be too costly, and that EPA was overstating the benefits of the rule. However, EPA has said MATS could annually prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, and generate $90 billion in health benefits. The pollutants regulated by the rule contribute to asthma and heart attacks, and can impair children's ability to learn.
The ruling is a victory for the EPA and for environment groups that supported the regulation.