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Against these phantom benefits are the very real costs of the CSAPR and MATS rules, amounting to tens of billions of dollars in utility compliance costs, lost jobs and higher energy prices. There’s also the prospect that coal plant shutdowns will reduce electricity reliability and lead to brownouts during heat waves.

Directly challenging the EPA on its fine particulate matter claims has been difficult as the agency has secured the key data in the hands of private university academics, who are out of congressional and Freedom of Information Act reach. The EPA is currently stonewalling an effort by Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland Republican, of the House Science Committee, to obtain the data in question.

The only good news in all this so far is that on Dec. 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit took the unusual step of staying the CSAPR rule pending its appeal. With any luck, a similar fate will befall MATS and a new, non-Obama EPA would then get to reconsider the rules in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Chinese data ought to embolden the 112th Congress’ unprecedented efforts to rein in the out-of-control EPA and its junk science.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).