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Health protections assured through Supreme Court ruling

ared might happen, “the aristocracy of monied corporations” has been strongly at work in recent times, challenging, as he phrased it, “our government to a trial of strength and [bidding] defiance to the laws of our country.”
A ruling to limit health-damaging air pollution, by the Environmental Protection Agency, is a revealing current example.
Federal standards on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollutants, which can travel hundreds of miles and endanger respiratory and cardiovascular health, were issued in 2005 by the Bush administration.
Lowering the allowed emissions of these, mostly from power plants, the resulting Clean Air Interstate Rule was opposed and challenged in court by energy-industry groups.
Directed by the court, in December 2008, to revise the regulations on inter-state transport of the pollutants, the agency complied.
It issued updated, new standards, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, in July 2011.
This rule, like the contested Bush administration rule it replaced, is based on a “good-neighbor” provision in the national Clean Air law which authorizes federal regulation if originating states fail to adequately do so.
Promptly, the new rule was attacked as well, first in Congress, where fossil-industry friendly forces sought to invalidate it legislatively. Luckily, Tennessee’s senior senator defended it there.
Lamar Alexander’s December newsletter that year states: “I strongly opposed a proposal . . . to overturn a clean-air rule limiting pollution across state lines, because it would make it easier for other states’ dirty air to blow into Tennessee.”
Noting that clean air helps retain our tourism jobs and keeps Tennesseans healthy, Alexander “was pleased that the Senate voted against overturn of [the Rule].”
Yet it would take several more years for the benefits of avoiding excesses of the pollutants involved to be assured.
As the EPA’s medical science panels estimated these, the Rule will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths annually when fully implemented, tens of thousands of heart- and acute-bronchitis attacks, and reduced asthma and other acute health problems for many more people.
Nearly 2 million missed school days by children and missed work days by working people will be avoided through lessened exposure risk.
Failing to get their way in the Congress, industry forces brought suit again against the Rule and, in a divided opinion in 2012, a federal appeals court invalidated it.
On April 29 this year, however, in an important victory for public health and the Obama administration, the 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was fully upheld and reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Heartland Institute, a “free-market” think tank funded by the Koch brothers and other fossil-industry interests, promptly stated a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling.
It judged it “a shame” to have the EPA empowered by the decision “to issue nonsensical interpretations of statutes with the primary goal of amassing more money and power.”
Amassment of “more money” is the direct profit result for corporate entities when our environmental laws are weakened and health- and environmental costs of avoidable pollution shifted to the public, instead of being borne by the originating agents.