HomeWashington Letter2014 ▶ Supreme Court Affirms EPA Cross State Air Pollution Rule
Supreme Court Affirms EPA Cross State Air Pollution Rule

May 2014

This week, by a vote of 6-2, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The court said the rule was permissible and appropriate execution of EPA's responsibilities under the Clean Air Act.

CSAPR requires fired power plants in 28 states to reduce the amount of emissions containing particulate matter and ozone that is exported to neighboring states. Both ozone and particulate matter can lead to asthma attacks, emergency room visits, heart attacks, hospitalizations and premature death. People with lung disease, including children with asthma, are especially vulnerable to the air pollution emitted from coal‐fired power plants.

The American Thoracic Society filed an amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief in support of the Cross State Air Pollution rule that explained to the court the known adverse health effects of downwind pollution.

"There is abundant scientific evidence that air pollution can make healthy people sick and sick people sicker, with kids and seniors being particularly vulnerable. We also know that air pollution can travel hundreds of miles downwind and expose people who are not near its original source to dangerous levels of pollution. Today's decision reaffirms EPA's authority to regulate cross state pollution and each state's responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent downwind air pollution," notes ATS President Patricia Finn, MD.

When fully implemented in 2014, the EPA estimates that CSAPR will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 400,000 asthma attacks, 15,000 heart attacks and 19,000 hospital visits each year. More than 240 million people will benefit from CSAPR, including those at particular risk for the harmful health effects of smog and soot. Children, senior citizens and people who work or exercise outdoors, as well as those who have chronic diseases, are at the greatest health risk from these pollutants.

Last Reviewed: October 2017