Federal Court Rules Against EPA
by LARRY NEUMEISTER, for SFGate.com January 26,
The Environmental Protection Agency must force
power plants to protect fish and other aquatic
life even if it's expensive, a federal appeals
court said in a ruling favoring states and
The decision late Thursday by the 2nd U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals concluded that it was improper
for the EPA to let power plants circumvent
environmental laws — for instance, restocking
polluted water with new fish instead of paying to
upgrade their technology.
It said the EPA's decisions must "be driven by
technology, not cost," unless two technologies
produce essentially the same benefits but have
much different costs.
"EPA's goal is to protect fish and the ecosystem
while meeting the nation's need for reliable
energy sources," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, the
agency's assistant administrator for water. The
agency was reviewing the decision, he said.
The ruling drew praise from environmental groups
and six states that had sued.
"This decision is a strong and stinging rebuke of
the Bush administration's underhanded practice of
issuing rule changes to undercut environmental
laws," Connecticut Attorney General Richard
Blumenthal said in a statement Friday.
The other states involved are Rhode Island,
Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
They sued after the EPA published regulations in
July 2004 describing how power plants must protect
aquatic life when they use water from bays,
rivers, lakes, oceans and other waterways for
Scientists say fish, larvae and eggs are killed in
the water-cooling process, which is used heavily
in states with many older, mostly fossil-fuel
The appeals court previously rejected arguments
that some species are nuisances and require
eradication. The court had also dismissed the
claim that other species respond to population
losses by increasing their reproduction.