U.S. Supreme Court

Chief justice refuses states' request to stay mercury rule in 'significant victory' for EPA


John Roberts

Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Thursday refused a request by 20 states to stay an Environmental Protection Agency regulation limiting mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants.

Roberts’ refusal was “a significant victory for the Obama administration,” the New York Times reports. The article sees Roberts’ action as “an indication that Justice Scalia’s death has altered the balance of power on the Supreme Court.” SCOTUSblog and the Associated Press also have stories.

Justices routinely refer stay applications to the entire court, but Roberts chose not to do that, SCOTUSblog points out.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit had refused to block the mercury regulation as the EPA completed a cost-benefit review required by a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June. The June decision by Justice Antonin Scalia said the Clean Air Act provision requiring EPA regulation of hazardous emissions when “appropriate and necessary” required at least some analysis of cost.

The states seeking the stay argued that the D.C. Circuit had undermined their Supreme Court victory.

The states noted that the U.S. Supreme Court recently blocked a clean-power rule intended to fight global warming though a federal appeals court had not yet reviewed the regulation. Justice Antonin Scalia was among five justices who voted to issue the stay of the clean-power rule; four justices dissented from that stay grant.


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