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EPA proposes national standards for toxic air pollutants from power plants

Staff report

In response to a court deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants.

The new power plant mercury and air toxics standards would require many power plants to install pollution control technologies to cut harmful emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases, while preventing as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year.

Power plants are the largest remaining source of several toxic air pollutants – responsible for half of mercury and more than half of acid gas emissions in the United States. In the power sector alone, coal-fired power plants are responsible for 99 percent of mercury emissions.

Currently, more than half of all coal-fired power plants already deploy the widely available pollution control technologies that allow them to meet these standards. Once final, these standards will ensure the remaining coal-fired plants, roughly 44 percent, take similar steps to decrease dangerous pollutants.

As part of the public comment process, EPA will also hold public hearings on this proposed rule


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