Supreme Court – at evens – backs EPA over toxic mercury pollution controls

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

A month after it hobbled the Obama administration’s signature regulation on climate change, the Supreme Court declined Thursday to block a different air-pollution rule that seeks to cut toxic emissions from the nation’s power plants.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. rejected a request to stay the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule, adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency three years ago to tighten restrictions on a class of harmful pollutants that are byproducts of burning coal.

Roberts refused it rather than waste time hoping to beat a 4 – 4 tie for fossil fuel pimps in state governments.

Roberts’s unilateral ruling means the regulation remains in effect while a legal battle continues over whether the EPA properly weighed costs and benefits in drafting the controversial regulation.

More than 20 states have joined a lawsuit opposing the MATS rule, arguing that the pollution controls mandated by the regulation are too expensive relative to the health benefits…

Coal-burning power plants are the biggest single source of man-made mercury, a neurotoxin that causes damage to the nervous system, particularly in young children. Decades of mercury pollution from coal-burning has contributed to elevated levels of the toxin in fish.

Environmental groups applauded Roberts’s decision as a win for public health.

Conservatives, papier-mâché-populists, will be crying in their beer over this one. Supporting the whinings of clown show-Congressional Republicans, they’ve all lined up to pretend Constitutional responsibilities don’t include SCOTUS appointments. Anymore.

The Koch Bros tears will fall into snifters of Napoleon Brandy. The effect is the same. Lousy governance at the behest of reactionaries sometimes snaps back and bites the bigots.

Turing Award goes to programmers who modernized cryptography

Programmers Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman, who developed the first form of cryptography for the Internet era, have been awarded this year’s Turing Award. Named after famed British mathematician Alan Turing, the award is a $1 million cash prize sponsored by Google that’s given to scientists and engineers who advance the field of computing.

Diffie and Hellman are being honored for developing the first instance of public-key cryptography back in the 1970s. Called the Diffie–Hellman key exchange, the protocol established a way to send encrypted messages over public channels.

They are thoroughly hated by every sell-out politician who thinks we can give up a “portion” of our privacy, “Just a little bit” of our liberty, to make life easier for those who think we need a police state full-time.

Thanks, Re/code