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Supreme Court upholds sedative used in Missouri executions, questions air quality rules

U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the use of midazolam as part of the execution protocol in Oklahoma. The same drug had been used — and challenged — in Missouri.  In the execution of Richard Strong earlier this month, midazolam was used as a sedative before pentobarbital was used to carry out the execution.

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito said, "While most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the 8th Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether."

In another ruling that will have implications in Missouri, as well as Illinois, the court held that the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality standards were invalid because the agency did not take the cost of complying with the regulations into account.

At issues are regulations issued in 2011 designed to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxins from power-company smokestacks. What this means for individual power companies will vary as the rule was to be fully complied with by next year, so many companies have already made changes.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Donna Korando started work in journalism at SIU’s Daily Egyptian in 1968. In between Carbondale and St. Louis Public Radio, she taught high school in Manitowoc, Wis., and worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the copy editor and letters editor for the editorial page from 1973-77. As an editorial writer from 1977-87, she covered Illinois and city politics, education, agriculture, family issues and sub-Saharan Africa. When she was editor of the Commentary Page from 1987-2003, the page won several awards from the Association of Opinion Page Editors. From 2003-07, she headed the features copy desk.

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