EPA proposes stricter air emissions rulesby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota would be covered by some new, tighter federal restrictions on pollution that is emitted from power plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new rules to cut down on emissions of two air pollutants -- sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide -- if their pollution prevents states downwind from meeting air quality standards.
The EPA's Gina McCarthy says people will notice improved air quality.
"Yesterday most of the East Coast had pretty lousy ozone days," she said. "What this is attempting to do is give people cleaner air to breathe, and that will have very little impact on electric rates because it is done in as flexible way as the law allows, and using the most cost-effective mechanisms we have available to us."
Several utilities, including Duluth-based Minnesota Power, successfully sued earlier to block the rule. They argued it didn't take into account the pollution that was blowing into Minnesota from elsewhere.
McCarthy says the rewritten rule includes detailed modeling to determine exactly how much pollution was coming from where.
"Some of the requirements on individual states are different because we've looked at upwind contributions in a more substantial way," she said.
The EPA says the rule would prevent as many as 36,000 premature deaths a year.
Minnesota Power says it's studying the proposed regulations.