Federal court bars EPA from enforcing cross-state pollution rules

WASHINGTON – EPA rules enforcing a “good neighbor” policy meant to combat smog and soot wafting across state lines were rejected by a federal court on Tuesday, saying the agency overstepped its authority.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ordered the agency to draft new rules.

In July 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the “Cross-State Air Pollution” rules requiring 27 states, mostly in the eastern half of the United States, from Texas to New York, to reduce power plant emissions, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, that cross state lines.

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But industry groups and some states challenged the rules, saying the EPA’s actions exceeded authority granted by Congress. The rules were put on hold last year while the court considered the case.

While the rules do not apply to companies in Massachusetts, the Bay State was likely to benefit from the so-called Transport Rule because it could have reduced pollution flowing from upwind states such as neighboring New York.

“Implementation of the Transport Rule would save lives and money in Massachusetts and across the country. Cutting down on dangerous pollution traveling across state lines means cleaner air, clearer lungs and healthier lives for families across the Bay State and nationwide,” said Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, the senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Markey urged the Obama administration to appeal what he called a “misguided decision.”

Markey’s office said the Transport Rule would have improved air quality in the state and could have prevented up to 390 premature deaths each year.