Energy & Environment

Supreme Court Upholds Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Exempts Texas

The rule aims to reduce power plant emissions blowing across state lines.


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The Supreme Court has given the Environmental Protection Agency an important victory in its effort to reduce power plant pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states. But the court issued its ruling in a way that is likely to exclude Texas from the effects of the law.

The Court’s 6-2 decision means that a rule adopted by the EPA in 2011 to limit emissions from plants in more than two dozen Southern and Midwestern states can take effect. But the High Court also ruled EPA overstepped its authority in setting emission levels for particular states. The rule was meant to apply when a state contributed a minimum one percent increase in pollutants in neighboring states.

Jeff Holmstead is a partner in the law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani.

“Just based on EPA’s own rulemaking record, what they did in Texas went well beyond what was necessary to meet this 1% threshold, so you would certainly think that it would be invalidated as it applies to Texas.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the Court’s majority opinion. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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