Supreme Court rejects request to block mercury rule

In this photo taken Nov. 18, 2011, steam and effluent is dispersed through the top of one of the smokestacks at the city of Springfield's City Water, Light & Power's coal-fired power station complex in Sangamon County. Most Illinois utilities won?t miss a beat when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalizes a rule Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, requiring coal-fired power plants to control mercury emissions for the first time. In fact, the state already is way ahead. The volume of mercury and mercury compounds emitted by Illinois? 23 power plants has fallen 44 percent, from 2008 through 2010 _ from a combined 4,482 pounds to 1,984 pounds, according to EPA data _ under a state rule adopted four years ago. And several plants already meet or exceed the goal of reducing emissions 90 percent by 2015. (AP Photo/The State Journal-Register, David Spencer)

(Photo: Chris Keane)
Chris Keane photo

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from 20 states seeking to block a federal rule targeting mercury pollution from taking effect while the government revises the rule to account for compliance costs.

The justices on Monday left in place a federal appeals court ruling that said the rule could remain in place while the Environmental Protection Agency fixes legal problems and comes out with a revision. The EPA revised its cost analysis in April.

The high court ruled last year that the EPA should have considered costs and benefits before imposing limits on mercury and other air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. But the justices let the rule stay in effect while the lower court decided how a cost-benefits analysis should be conducted.