"The Environmental Protection Agency would require oil- and coal-burning power plants to dramatically reduce hazardous air pollution under an agreement announced Friday that ends a long-standing lawsuit filed by environmentalists.
The agreement -- which would probably boost electricity prices but could potentially save thousands of lives -- commits the EPA to set pollution standards by 2011 for the power plants that are responsible for nearly half of all emissions of mercury, which can harm brain development in fetuses and children.
Once the EPA sets the standards, many power plants would be forced to install pollution scrubbers that capture heavy metals such as mercury -- along with particulates such as soot. Currently, less than one-third of those plants employ scrubbers.
Environmentalists hailed the decision and equated it, in environmental protection terms, with EPA moves this year to begin limiting greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, factories, power plants and other major emitters."