"WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a tough new rule to limit emissions of mercury, arsenic and other toxic substances from sources such as power plants, a landmark measure that could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Though mercury is a known neurotoxin that can be profoundly harmful to children and pregnant women, there has never been a federal rule setting a standard for its release into the air from power plants. The current rule has been more than 20 years in the making, stymied repeatedly by objections from coal-burning utilities -- the biggest source of mercury and other acid gases -- and about the cost of installing pollution-control equipment.
The new regulation does not differ markedly in its rigorous emissions targets and timetable from a draft rule proposed in March, despite fierce lobbying to change it. It gives utilities three years to install pollution control equipment called scrubbers, with the opportunity for extensions from regulators on a case-by-case basis."
Neela Banerjee reports for the Los Angeles Times December 21, 2011.
"EPA Delivers Holiday Gift: New Mercury Rules" (Mother Jones)
"EPA Announces Historic Rule To Clean Or Shut Coal-Burning Power Plants" (McClatchy)
"EPA Forces Dirtiest Power Plants To Clean Up Toxic Air Pollution, But Gives Leeway on Timing" (AP)
"First Mercury, Air Toxics Standards Imposed on U.S. Power Plants" (ENS)
"E.P.A. Issues Limits on Mercury Emissions" (Green/NYT)