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EPA sets new air pollution limits for coal-fired power plants

(EPA.gov website)
A preview of the EPA's interactive map showing how air pollution moves between states. See a link to the full map in the story below.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced new limits on air pollution from coal-fired power plants. The rule aims to lower emissions from power plants in 27 states including Missouri and Illinois.

The goal is to reduce soot (fine particulates) and smog (ground-level ozone) and improve air quality downwind. (Check out this map from the EPA, a preview of which is above, to see how the new limits affect your state).

The EPA says air pollution from power plants can contribute to a wide range of health problems, from asthma to heart attacks.

Ameren spokesperson Susan Gallagher says the company is still figuring out what the new regulation means for its eleven coal-fired power plants in Missouri and Illinois.

But she says some Ameren plants have already installed air pollution controls to filter out sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), the pollutants responsible for soot and smog formation.

"We would believe that we're at a good baseline to minimize the impact of this rule, but it's a little different from the proposed rule in that it appears that the EPA has made the final rule more difficult for power plants to comply," Gallagher said.

Of Ameren's four coal-fired power plants in Missouri, only the Sioux Power Station about 30 miles northeast of St. Louis has a scrubber system to remove sulfur dioxide.

Missouri Coalition for the Environment director Kathleen Logan Smith says the regulation will keep power plants from exporting their air pollution out of state. “Because the approach for power plants for decades was if you wanted your pollution to go away you just made your stack taller, so it went further away to the next guy downwind. And this is going to address that issue, this is going to help stop that,” Logan Smith said.

According to the EPA, air pollution from Missouri and Illinois can travel as far as Pennsylvania and Texas.

Power plants will need to comply with the new pollution limits starting in January.

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