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U.S. Supreme Court Revives EPA Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

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WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a major federal regulation requiring some states to limit pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states, reversing a lower court ruling and handing a victory to President Barack Obama.

By a 6-2 vote, the court said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted reasonably in requiring 28 states to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which can lead to soot and smog.

Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the EPA rule a cost-effective way to allocate responsibility for emission reductions among so-called upwind states, and that the EPA need not consider each state's proportionate responsibility for the emissions in question.

She also called the rule a "permissible, workable, and equitable interpretation" of the "good neighbor" provision of the Clean Air Act.

This provision limits cross-border emissions that make it harder for downwind states to comply with federal air quality standards, or national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).

"The Good Neighbor Provision requires EPA to seek downwind attainment of NAAQS notwithstanding the uncertainties," Ginsburg wrote. "Required to balance the possibilities of under-control and over-control, EPA must have leeway in fulfilling its statutory mandate."

Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Both are conservative appointees of Republican presidents.

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