Health Highlights: Feb. 10, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Supreme Court Blocks Coal-Fired Power Plant Emissions Rules

President Barack Obama’s efforts to fight climate change were dealt a blow Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked regulations to limit emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The stay came after a 5-4 vote and was issued as an appeals court considers a challenge against the regulations from 29 states and a large number of corporations and industry groups, The New York Times reported.

This is the first time the Supreme Court has granted a request to suspend a government regulation before it is reviewed by a federal appeals court.

“It’s a stunning development,” Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former environmental legal counsel to the Obama administration, said in an email to The Times.

The “order certainly indicates a high degree of initial judicial skepticism from five justices on the court,” and will raise serious questions from other nations that signed the Paris climate change pact in December, Freeman added.

The legal challenge is likely to return to the Supreme Court after the appeals court makes its ruling. But the fact that the Supreme Court issued the stay while the appeals court is still hearing the case suggests the regulations could face defeat, The Times reported.

A statement from The White House said it disagreed with the Supreme court’s decision and remained confident that it would eventually be successful. “The administration will continue to take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions,” the statement said.

In January, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously refused to grant a stay against the coal-fired power plant emissions regulations. The court will hear arguments on June 2, The Times reported.

The first deadline for emissions reductions are scheduled to take effect in 2022.


Utah Bill to Remove Taxes on Feminine Hygiene Products Going Before All-Male Committee

A bill to eliminate taxes on tampons and other women’s hygiene products in Utah will be heard this week by an all-male tax committee in the state’s House of Representatives.

The bill also seeks to remove taxes on adult incontinence products and children’s diapers. By including these items, Rep. Susan Duckworth hoped her bill would get more support in the Republican-dominated state Legislature, the Associated Press reported.

“I’m going into an all-male committee, and I just don’t believe they’re going to have much sympathy,” she said.

Duckworth said the bill could save people who use these products at least $30 a year in taxes. But Utah’s legislative budget staff estimates that eliminating the sales tax on these products could reduce tax revenues by more than $1 million next year, the AP reported.

Pennsylvania and Minnesota are among at least five states that have done away with these taxes, and similar bills have been introduced in a number of other states.

In an interview with a YouTube blogger last month, President Barack Obama said he had no idea why feminine hygiene products were taxed, the AP reported.

Last year, Canada eliminated taxes on feminine hygiene products, and Britain is considering a similar move.

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