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By Avery Fellow
The Environmental Protection Agency will finalize regulations requiring power plants to use pollution controls to limit toxic emissions in the next few days, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said Dec. 6 during an address at Duke University.
More than 40 percent of coal-fired power plants in the United States do not use pollution controls to limit emissions of toxic substances, Jackson said.
The utility MACT rule would require coal-fired power plants to adopt maximum achievable control technology to reduce emissions of mercury, acid gases, and other air pollutants. The rule would set the first national standards on the amount of mercury and other toxic air pollution released from power plants.
EPA is under a court-ordered deadline to issue a final rule by Dec. 16. The rule is under White House review (217 DEN A-3, 11/9/11).
EPA published the proposed the rule in May (76 Fed. Reg. 24,976; 52 DEN A-8, 3/17/11).
The rule would lead to health benefits amounting to $140 billion per year starting in 2016, she said. The health benefits would amount to $5 to $13 for every dollar spent on the rule, according to EPA.
The standards would prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths each year, Jackson said, and prevent up to 11,000 heart attacks and 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis in children per year.
The rule also would create 31,000 short-term construction jobs and 9,000 long-term utility worker jobs, Jackson said.
Responding to industry concerns, the Energy Department issued a report Dec. 1 finding that the utility MACT rule would not jeopardize electric reliability (232 DEN A-10, 12/2/11).
More information about the EPA final rule on air toxics from power plants is available at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/actions.html .
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