We burn fossil fuels in factories, cars and power plants. This burning spews chemicals into the air that combine with sunlight to form ground-level ozone-a significant issue in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. To protect public health and safety, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new ozone standard that could prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of lung and heart diseases.

As always, polluters complained that the new protections would be too expensive. They sued the EPA and hauled them before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most important court after the Supreme Court. The polluters complained that the EPA did not consider the cost of controls necessary to protect public health.

The court rejected these complaints “because the EPA complied with the Constitution, reasonably interpreted the Act’s critical terms and wholly satisfied-indeed, in most instances, surpassed-its obligation to engage in reasoned decision-making[.]”

For every clean air rule, polluters argue that the costs are too high and the public health benefits negligible. But they have never been right about this. Time and time again, protecting clean air proves to be cheaper and more effective. In 2011, the EPA tallied the costs and benefits of clean air protections and reached this conclusion:

The very wide margin between estimated benefits and costs, and the results of our uncertainty analysis, suggest that it is extremely unlikely that the monetized benefits of the CAAA over the 1990 to 2020 period reasonably could be less than its costs, under any alternative set of assumptions we can conceive. Our central benefits estimate exceeds costs by a factor of more than 30 to one, and the high benefits estimate exceeds costs by 90 times. Even the low benefits estimate exceeds costs by about three to one.

This summer, the EPA will publish new pollution standards for coal-fired power plants. Polluters are already complaining about the costs. But we know that, yet again, the costs will pale in comparison to the benefits.