US Prepares Air Pollution Clampdown

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Some U.S. states and power companies will soon have to start paying more to clean up pollutants spewed into the air by aging power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced a new rule that will require 27 states to work with power companies to reduce emissions by millions of tons a year staring in 2012.

The EPA says the change is designed to make it easier and less expensive for states that are not producing pollutants to meet environmental standards.

Under the old rule, eastern U.S. states, downwind from the power plants, had been required to clean up the air and the environmental damage. The change requires the power plants in the central and western parts of the country to do more to prevent the pollutants from getting into the air at all.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says the new rule will cost power companies about $800 million a year. But she says that will be offset by an estimated $280 billion a year in saving on health care-related costs.

The EPA estimates the change will improve air quality for 240 million Americans.

The agency also estimates it will help prevent 34,000 premature deaths a year, as well as reduce the number of cases of non-fatal heart attacks, bronchitis and asthma.