by Amelia Messamore

BIRMINGHAM (June 30, 2015) – On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on what the New York Times calls “one of the Obama Administration’s most ambitious environmental initiatives.”

According to a New York Times article from earlier this month, the goal of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation was to combat climate change by reducing the amount of mercury and other harmful pollutants released into the atmosphere.

The dissenting opinions focused on the lack of cost-benefit analysis for the rule, highlighting that the Clean Air Act requires regulations to be both “appropriate and necessary” (read the full opinion here). Supporters of the proposed regulation, however, argue that the environmental and health benefits far outweigh the costs.

Until the EPA can reframe the rule to include solid data about the cost-benefit ratio, the 5-4 decision prevents the agency from requiring the nation's coal- and oil-fired power plants to limit the amount of mercury and other pollutants they emit.

The decision has sparked heated discussion across the nation. For everything you need to know about the case—including the opinions of supporters of the decision and those against it—check out the following stories.

1. High Court Blocks Power Plant Regulations Without Cost Estimates

"It was a defeat for the Obama administration, which had been on a roll at the high court on environmental matters lately. It was a victory for a coalition of 20 states, along with major electric utilities and coal producers, which argued that the agency should have considered costs before issuing the regulations." (USA Today)

2. Supreme Court Blocks Obama Administration Plan on Power Plant Emissions

"In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with industry and 23 states that challenged the Environmental Protection Agency over the rules for oil- and coal-fired utilities, which the EPA estimated would cost $9.6 billion annually. The states and industry groups said the cost estimate far outweighed the benefits the rules would produce, estimated at $4 million to $6 million per year." (NPR)

3. Coal Stocks Climb As Supreme Court Strikes Down EPA Regulation

"Gainers included Peabody Energy BTU, Arch Coal ACI, Alpha Natural Resources ANR and Cloud Peak Energy CLD." (Market Watch)

4. Editorial: What the Court Did, and Didn't Do, About Coal-Fired Power Plants

"The Supreme Court decision blocking federal regulations on mercury and other pollutants isn't the tremendous victory for Big Coal that it first appeared to be." (LA Times)

5. Supreme Court Strikes Down Pollution Rule; Coal Industry Applauds Action

“'The regulators have to consider the cost. They simply can’t impose rules just because they think they have the authority to do so,' National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich told MetroNews." (MetroNews)

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