On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected copper company Asarco LLC’s plea to review an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2010 regulation on air pollution without comment. The company alleged that an adequate margin of safety was not imposed by the courts to restrain the EPA’s discretion for setting sulfur dioxide exposure standards resulting in overly strict standards to protect public health and increased expenses for the industry. The EPA sites that their evidence supports decreased respiratory problems commonly resulting in bronchitis and asthma.
“In 2010, EPA revised the primary SO2 NAAQS by establishing a new 1-hour standard at a level of 75 parts per billion (ppb). EPA revoked the two existing primary standards because they would not provide additional public health protection given a 1-hour standard at 75 ppb.” The previous two existing standards were established in 1971 and 1996. Commonly located near power plants and industrial facilities, sulfur dioxide is a reactive gas formed from fossil fuel.
During 2010, a coal mine in West Virginia had the worst mine explosion in history holding Massey Energy and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) responsible for failure of coal mining practices. Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR) is financially responsible as they acquired Massey Energy in 2011. The 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster invited more regulation from the EPA. The recovery efforts of the underground explosion in Raleigh County, WV were constrained by unsafe levels of methane and carbon dioxide preventing entry into the mine. Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine disaster resulted in 29 miners lives’ lost.
China, USA, India, Russia and Japan are the largest consumers of coal worldwide making Asia the largest market. The United States has the largest reserve of coal and is the second largest producer. The top five states for coal production in the United States for 2011, as 2012 has not been released, are Wyo., W. Va., Ky., Pa. and Texas. Coal is found in many industries as it can be used for steel production, fuel and generating electricity.