A federal appeals court struck down the regulatory cornerstone of the Bush administration’s efforts at controlling air pollution on Friday, agreeing with the utility industry that the Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its authority when it established the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule.
North Carolina and some companies that produce electric power opposed some parts of the regulation, creating a rare instance in which President Bush found himself allied with enviromental groups.
The unanimous ruling handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, said the regulations had “fatal flaws.”
. At its most stringent, the regulations covering 28 states in the eastern half of the country, would have required 70 percent reductions in such major pollutants as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide beginning in 2015.
The ruling, along with a court decision issued in February striking down the environmental agency’s rule controlling mercury emissions from power plants, means that virtually all new controls imposed on the electric utility industry by the Bush administration have no force.
“The implications are huge,” said Lisa Heinzerling, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “This is the administration’s major air pollution initiative.”
Ms. Heinzerling said the law was intended to deal comprehensively with a variety of air-pollution issues, including the interstate transport of pollutants and the states’ obligations to enforce standards to protect the public health.
But with Friday’s decision, she said, all this administration’s efforts — aside from those involving motor vehicles – are gone.
“They are demolished,” Ms. Heinzerling said. “Anything they’ve done that has any relation to pollution control has been invalidated.”