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EPA Issues New Air Standards for Power Plants

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing a new air pollution rule that's meant to reduce power plant emissions. The rule will affect Kentucky, but not immediately.The EPA’s new rule is meant to control sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which are often blown across state lines. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says regulating such interstate pollution is essential, because a state shouldn’t be penalized for pollution it can’t control.“We all know that pollution generated in one state or one community does not stop at the border or the city lines. Just because wind and weather will carry air pollution away from its source at a local power plant, it doesn’t mean that pollution is no longer that plant’s responsibility.”The rule will replace more lenient Bush-era regulations. And even though it will take effect in January, power plants in Kentucky won't have to reduce emissions until 2014.Louisville Gas and Electric spokeswoman Chris Whelan says the tighter regulations are among the reasons LG&E is seeking to raise rates.“This rule is not the primary driver of our environmental cost recovery plan, it is a secondary cost that’s in that plan. So we will be having to make reductions in our Nox and So2 by 2014.”The EPA singled out 28 states that will be affected by the rule, saying they significantly contribute to air quality problems in downwind states. Twenty-one states, including Kentucky, will have to meet the standards for both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. Six others will only have to reduce one or the other, and one state will only have to reduce ozone during the summer months.Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield is drafting legislation to delay the implementation of this and upcoming EPA rules to regulate air pollution. The EPA has until the end of the month to introduce additional air regulations.