Michigan v. EPA; consolidated with Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA; National Mining Association v. EPA

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
  • Date Filed: November 25, 2014
  • Case #: 14-46; 14-47; 14-49
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 748 F.3d 1222 (D.C. Cir. 2014)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether it was unreasonable for the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") refused to consider costs in deciding if it is "appropriate" to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.

The Court consolidated the petitions of Michigan v. EPA (14-46), Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (14-47), and National Mining Association v. EPA (14-49) and limited the question presented.

Before EPA regulates hazardous air pollutants from electric utilities, it must first conduct a study of the hazards to public health resulting from those emissions even after imposition of all the other requirements of the CAA, and then must decide whether it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate such residual emissions under § 7412 after considering the results of the study. Although the EPA is required to consider costs for other sources of pollutants, it is not expressly required in statute to do so for electric utilities.

In all cases, the petitioners question the EPA’s discretion under § 112(n)(1)(A) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7412(n)(1)(A), which requires the EPA to regulate residual public health risks only as “appropriate and necessary.” In particular, the petitioners challenge an EPA regulation that has an estimated cost of approximately $9.6 billion per year with an estimated health benefit of approximately $4-6 million per year.

The DC Circuit has upheld the EPA’s decision not to consider costs when regulating electric utilities, holding that EPA’s interpretation of 42 § U.S.C. 7412 was “clearly permissible” under Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. NRDC, 467 U.S. 837 (1984). The Court granted certiorari to determine if the EPA’s refusal was unreasonable and has slated one hour for the oral arguments of the combined petitions.

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