Supreme Court decisions on EPA regulations, Arizona program aimed at preventing gerrymandering and use of execution drug

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By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled against federal regulators’ attempt to limit power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants.

The rules began to take effect in April, but the court said by a 5-4 vote Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to take their cost into account when the agency first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants.

The challenge was brought by industry groups and 21 Republican-led states.

Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said it is not appropriate to impose billions of dollars of economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.

The case now goes back to lower courts for the EPA to decide how to account for costs.

GERRYMANDERING

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has upheld Arizona congressional districts drawn by an independent commission and rejected a constitutional challenge from Republican lawmakers.

The 5-4 outcome Monday preserves efforts in 13 states to limit partisan influence in redistricting. Most notably, California uses an independent commission to draw electoral boundaries for its largest-in-the-nation congressional delegation.

EXECUTION DRUG

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has upheld the use of a controversial drug that has been implicated in several botched executions.

The justices on Monday voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The drug was used in executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma in 2014 that took longer than usual and raised concerns that it did not perform its intended task of putting inmates into a coma-like sleep.