This week, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Michigan v. EPA, an important environmental case challenging the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. These vital regulations address the risks associated with emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and arsenic from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

For reasons to come, this case may turn on the meaning of a single word — “appropriate.” However, the legal jostling over the word “appropriate” is far from the only reason to pay attention to this important case. Here are four others:

  1. The public health benefits of the EPA’s new standards are enormous. Hazardous air pollutants like mercury and arsenic are associated with a number of health risks, including birth defects, neurological disorders, and cancer, with these risks most pronounced among pregnant women, infants, and children. All told, the EPA estimates that each year its new standards will save up to 11,000…

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