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EPA Proposes New Emissions Plan

July 7, 2010

The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules on Tuesday that would reduce toxic emissions produced by power plants in 31 eastern US states.

The aim, which includes the nation’s capital, is to reduce 71 percent of sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels by 2014. Also, the agency wishes to have nitrogen oxides cut by 52 percent in the same period.

“This rule is designed to cut pollution that spreads hundreds of miles and has enormous negative impacts on millions of Americans,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “We’re working to limit pollution at its source, rather than waiting for it to move across the country.”

The proposal, called the transport rule, will use the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision to reduce emissions at power plants whose output of toxic pollution is carried across state lines by wind.

The agency will hold public hearings before the plan takes effect. The agency is working to “save billions in health costs, help increase American educational and economic productivity, and — most importantly — save lives,” said Jackson in a statement.

The EPA estimates the new plan would save as much as $120 billion in healthcare costs, including missed work and school days due to health issues caused by atmospheric pollution. The EPA says the cost in health savings would dwarf the annual cost power plants would have to spend to comply with the rule.

According to US figures, atmospheric pollution attributed to power plant emissions each year causes an estimated 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths, 23,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis, and 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma.

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