Editorials

May 1, 2014

Supreme Court ruling is a big victory for cleaner air

Lives will be saved and Americans will have fewer health woes thanks to cleaner air in the future.

Americans will breathe cleaner and healthier air because of a positive, somewhat surprising, decision this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can impose limits on the harmful emissions belched by coal-fired power plants, including those in Kansas and Missouri.

Eastern states want to be protected from that pollution. But a federal appeals court had endorsed the positions of utilities and coal producers, saying the EPA lacked the legal power to enforce its rules.

Environmentalists had feared the Supreme Court would side with this conservative approach to pollution control. Fortunately, it didn’t.

During the long court battle, some utilities in Kansas and Missouri acted properly to upgrade their facilities and cut emissions. Warnings from critics of the EPA rules — that plants would close or electricity rates would skyrocket — have not come true.

It was disappointing to hear Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt say he still wanted to drag the fight out, partly by claiming “that the EPA acted outside of its statutory authority” in adopting the rules.

Actually, the highest court in the land just slapped down that argument from apologists for dirty coal.

Lives will be saved and Americans will have fewer health woes thanks to cleaner air in the future.

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