Flawed yet needed

Published: Saturday 31 January 2009

Court reinstates clean air rule

A US court of appeals has temporarily reinstated President George W Bush's flawed clean air regulations to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants in the country.

In the ruling, the us Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed its decision made in July 2008 to vacate the Clean Air Interstate Rule (cair) citing fundamental flaws. It had also asked the Environmental Protection Agency (epa) to fix the flaws in the rule.

The latest decision was in response to petitions filed by the epa, environmental groups and several states in September 2008 requesting the court to reconsider its opinion to vacate the clean air rule.

In the ruling, the court said "...we are convinced that, notwithstanding the relative flaws of cair, allowing cair to remain in effect until it is replaced by a rule consistent with our opinion would at least temporarily preserve the environmental values covered by cair." The petitioners may bring a mandamus petition if epa fails to modify cair, the bench said.

Environmental groups said the decision will benefit millions of Americans who face serious health threats from the pollution of power plants across 28 states.

"Power plants across the east will reduce millions of tonnes of smog and soot pollution today while America's new leadership fixes the mistakes made by the Bush Administration," said Vickie Patton of Environmental Defense Fund, a us- based advocacy group.

The timing of the decision was critical as January 1, 2009 was the first compliance deadline under cair.

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