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EPA gets high court date on coal pollution

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court agreed to consider reviving an EPA rule that would curb emissions from coal-fired power plants, in a clash over the Obama administration's biggest air-quality effort.

A federal appeals court threw out the cross-state air pollution rule last year, saying the EPA had gone beyond its powers under federal law. That decision was a victory for coal companies and utilities, which called the measure one of the costliest ever issued under the Clean Air Act.

The administration seeks to reinstate a rule it says would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths and produce as much as $280 billion a year in economic benefits.

The rule, which has never taken effect, caps emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in 28 states whose pollution blows into neighboring jurisdictions. All are in the eastern two-thirds of the country.

"The U.S. Supreme Court is likely taking this case in order to reverse the D.C. Circuit panel's decision that is contrary to law and would further delay long-needed clean air standards necessary to protect our public health," Howard Lerner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said Monday in an emailed statement.

The justices will hear arguments and rule during the nine-month term that starts in October.