air pollutionThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it is reviewing technical information that is focused on pollution limits for new power plants under the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, based on new information provided by industry stakeholders after the rule was finalized.

The EPA calls the review, known as a “reconsideration,” a common step for major standards and says it will have no impact on the standards already set for existing power plants.

“By moving quickly to review the new information, this action will provide greater certainty for five planned future facilities, in Georgia, Kansas, Texas, and Utah, that would be covered by the standards,” according to a statement issued by the agency, which added that this review will not change the expected costs or public health benefits of the rule.

EPA’s estimates that the mercury and air toxics standards, which take advantage of existing flexibilities, will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year  by protecting Americans from power plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution like arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide. Additionally, the standards are expected to prevent 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year.

EPA will review monitoring issues related to the mercury standards for new power plants and will address other technical issues on the acid gas and particle pollution standards for these plants. The agency’s review will not change the types of state-of-the-art pollution controls new power plants are expected to use to reduce this harmful pollution.

The agency will complete the rulemaking by March 2013 and will also use its Clean Air Act authority to stay the final standards for new power plants for three months during this review.

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