Supreme Court to Review Legal Challenge Against EPA’s Rule Restricting Power Plant Pollution in Ten States


In February, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether the Environmental Protection Agency can keep enforcing its “good neighbor” rule against air pollution in 10 states. This rule tries to limit the pollution from power plants and other industrial sources that blow into areas nearby, causing smog.

The high court didn’t decide on Wednesday whether to stop enforcing the rule or not. This means that it will stay in place at least until the end of its February session when it will hear cases.

Three states that make energy—Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia—as well as business groups and individuals are challenging the rule.

The EPA wouldn’t say anything on Wednesday and told people to ask the Justice Department. The Justice Department also didn’t want to say anything.

The EPA said that emissions from power plants fell by 18% in 2023 in the 10 states that let it apply its rule, which was made official in March. Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin are those states.

In another dozen, the rule is on hold because of different court challenges. These are the other states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. At some point in 2026, California will have caps on emissions from factories other than power plants.

Ground-level ozone, or smog,-causing states have to send in plans to make sure that coal-fired power plants and other industry sites don’t make other states’ air pollution worse. If a state doesn’t send in a “good neighbor” plan or if the EPA doesn’t like a state plan, the federal plan was meant to protect states that are farther away.

Ground-level ozone is made when chemicals from industrial pollutants mix with sunlight. It can make breathing problems worse, like asthma and chronic bronchitis. People whose immune systems aren’t working well, the old, and kids playing outside are especially at risk.

Environmental and public health groups have said that the plan to cut pollution will save the lives of people who live hundreds of miles from power plants, cement factories, steel mills, and other polluting industries.

People in the business world said the plan was unfair to coal and would make energy more expensive.

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