Texas will take aim in a federal appeals court Friday at a controversial rule that requires aging power plants to sharply reduce emissions that cause smog and soot in neighboring states.
The latest round in the state’s fight with the Environmental Protection Agency will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, often considered the nation’s most influential after the Supreme Court.
In the case, industry groups and 14 states, led by Texas, are challenging the legality of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which imposes caps on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide from coal-fired power plants in eastern states. Texas, for one, fears some utilities will shutter plants to comply with the rule, threatening the state’s ability to “keep the lights on.”
The EPA says the rule is necessary to reduce lung-damaging pollution that causes thousands of premature deaths and respiratory illnesses each year around the power plants and in downwind states.
“This is a classic instance of why air pollution cleanup cannot be left solely to the states,” said Frank O’Donnell, head of the environmental group Clean Air Watch.
The oral arguments come nearly four months after a three-judge panel put the rule on hold while the federal appeals court considers its legality.