The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-to-1 that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority in how it opted to deal with cross-border pollution.
Downwind states since the 1980s have challenged upwind states and the EPA to settle liability claims. The ruling threw out early EPA efforts to settle interstate pollution rules.
Environmental advocacy group Sierra Club said the ruling delays a "promise of safe, breathable air." U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was quoted by The New York Times as saying the ruling was a "win" that would prevent "higher power bills" and "job losses."
The Sierra Club, the newspaper reports, estimates that ruling in favor of the EPA could have prevented more than 30,000 premature deaths associated with air pollution per year.
Joe Kruger, an energy director at the non-profit Bipartisan Policy Center, told the Times that U.S. lawmakers might have to settle the issue considering the EPA's frustrations.
"Without congressional intervention, we will be left with more pollution in the near term as well as a higher cost of mitigation in the long run," he said.