A federal appeals court on Tuesday temporarily reinstated a  rule that sought to cut harmful pollution from power plants and other facilities in the Eastern US.

Issued in 2005 and set to take effect on Jan. 1, the Clean Air Interstate Rule permanently capped emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in 28 Eastern and Midwestern states. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the rule would prevent about 17,000 deaths a year and save up to $100 billion in health benefits.

But this past July, following a lawsuit against the EPA by North Carolina and some electric power producers, the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out the rule, citing what it called “more than several fatal flaws” in the regulation. The judges believed that the EPA was improperly interfering with pollution permit trading markets and unfairly privileging coal utilities over natural-gas ones. (emphasis mine).

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