Obama’s on a Winning Streak in Drive to Curb Air Pollution

The Obama administration has won its third court victory on air pollution regulation in less than a month with a unanimous 3-0 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency.

May 14, 2014 at 9:41AM

This article was written by Oilprice.com -- the leading provider of energy news in the world. 

The Obama administration has won its third court victory on air pollution regulation in less than a month with a unanimous 3-0 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The ruling May 9 that the EPA has the legal authority to enact stricter standards on fine particulate matter, also known as soot, is a defeat for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which sued EPA for its regulations on soot coming from coal-fired power plants, refineries and vehicles, arguing that EPA exceeded its authority.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA can restrict air pollutants based on established science that is shown to protect public health. NAM disputed the science upon which EPA based its stricter soot limits, but the appeals court dismissed that argument, saying that the "EPA's decision and explanation are at least reasonable."

Under the rules, annual limits on particulate emissions tightened from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter.

Public health and environmental groups have long pressed for firmer action on soot. According to John Walke, director of Clean Air at the Natural Resources Defense Council, "Tiny soot particles are especially dangerous because they penetrate deep into the heart, lungs and blood streams causing respiratory ailments including heart attacks, strokes asthma attacks and even premature death," "It is probably the most dangerous common form of air pollution that we worry about."

EPA concludes that although the rule will inflict $53 million to $350 million in annual costs on industry, it will provide public health benefits of $4 billion to $9.1 billion. Environmental groups cheered the decision, calling it a victory for public health.

In the past month, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a rule to reduce pollutants responsible for smog and acid rain, and the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a rule limiting arsenic and mercury and other toxic emissions from coal plants.
Taken together, the multiple rulings in favor of EPA action amount to a huge victory for the Obama administration and appear to grant broad latitude for the environmental watchdog to enact strict limits under existing authority.

"The three rulings together create quite the trifecta by significantly furthering the administration's agenda on addressing climate change through the existing Clean Air Act," said Richard Lazarus, an environmental law professor at Harvard Law School.

In the absence of congressional action on a range of environmental issues, the Obama administration has resorted to using executive authority to achieve its goals. The administration is in an all-out sprint to get the limits in place before Obama's term expires in 2016. As a result, EPA regulations have often ended up in court. But the agency has rolled up victory after victory with many key rules remaining largely intact, demonstrating just how monumentally important the Clean Air Act is for environmental policy.

The U.S Court of Appeals also ruled in EPA's favor last year, when it upheld federal regulations on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, and in 2008 when it upheld EPA's ozone standard.

As the New York Times recently noted one provision of the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the authority to regulate pollutants that are found to be harmful to public health, even if not specifically outlined in the law. After EPA's 2009 "endangerment" finding, the Obama administration feels it has the legal basis from which to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In June, the White House will release one of the most significant environmental regulations in years: limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. It has a long road ahead before it might be finalized, but the broad authority affirmed to the EPA by several court decisions bodes well for the White House's strategy.

It's not one most economists endorse, though; many believe that a carbon tax would be more efficient and straightforward than federal regulations. Ironically, the blanket rejection by industry allies in Congress of the former means they may end up with much more of the latter.

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Written by Nick Cunningham at Oilprice.com.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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