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EPA Finalizes Rules to Limit Mercury, Other Heavy Metals, Emitted from Power Plants

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled new rules that will reduce pollution from power plants.The rule has been in the works for more than two decades, and the EPA was under a court order to finalize the rules by last week. Under the rule, utilities will have to drastically reduce the amounts of toxic metals power plants emit into the air.EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson made the announcement at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She says the rule will have invaluable health benefits.“Once the rule is fully implemented in 2016, it will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 3,100 emergency room visits among children,” she said.Many utility companies have lobbied against the standard, but in an effort to show that not all companies are against it, the EPA invited Baltimore-based Constellation EnergyVice President Paul Allen to speak at the press conference. Allen praised the EPA for seeking input from all stakeholders, and says companies should have had time to prepare.“Companies have had a lot of time to think about, consider, and prepare for the response to these rules depending on how the final rule shakes out,” he said. “Options have been considered and options are available to companies to comply with the rule.”The EPA estimates that most plants will be able to comply in three years, and states will be allowed to extend the deadline for another year. The EPA will consider any utilities who can’t comply within four years on a case-by-case basis.The state has approvedLouisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities' plan to comply with the rule. That plan—which includes shutting down several coal-fired plants—is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2016.