"The Obama administration is proposing a new rule to tighten restrictions on pollution from coal-burning power plants in the eastern half of the country, a key step to cut emissions that cause smog.
The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday the new rule represented its most consequential effort yet to tackle deadly pollution that contributes to smog and soot that hangs over more than half the country. The rule would cost nearly $3 billion a year and those costs are likely to be passed along to consumers, although the rule's effect on specific companies and on consumers was not clear.
"We believe that today is marking a large and important step in EPA's effort to protect public health," said the agency's top air pollution official, Gina McCarthy.
The rule, to be finalized next year, aims to cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 71 percent from 2005 levels by 2014 and nitrogen oxide emissions by 52 percent in the same time frame.
Known as the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the measure requires 31 states from Massachusetts to Texas to reduce smog and soot-producing emissions that can travel long distances in the wind. The agency predicted the rule would prevent about 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths a year.
The rule would overturn and toughen rules issued during the administration of former President George W. Bush."
Matthew Daly reports for the Associated Press July 6, 2010.
"New Rules May Cut Pollution From Coal" (McClatchy)