GUEST: Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of ‘The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan’, and ‘Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq’. He has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.
After a series of high-profile losses at the Supreme Court, conservatives celebrated yesterday when the nation’s highest court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-fired plants. Claiming that that EPA had not done a cost-benefit analysis of the standards it was expecting companies to meet, Justice Antonin Scalia claimed that “It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.”
The 20 states that sued the EPA in conjunction with a number of fossil fuels companies claimed that the government agency was imposing billions of dollars in costs to achieve a few million in benefits. The ruling is not the end of the road however. The EPA may be able to continue regulating toxic pollutants under the Clean Air Act once it conducts cost-benefit analyses.
President Obama, stymied by Congressional gridlock on climate change legislation, has attempted to use the authority of the EPA as a tool to curb greenhouse gas emissions to cement his environmental legacy. It should be noted however, that the President has also championed such dirty fuels as fracking and tar sands, and endorsed mythical products like “clean coal.”