US EPA issuing new Air Quality rules
The Environmental Protection Agency is introducing its most ambitious clean air rules in decades, though it is making some concessions to election-minded Republicans who oppose them.
The EPA, facing backlash from heavy industry, has delayed several of the rules and made adjustments in others. Some industry groups say the rules will cost companies billions of dollars and increase power bills for consumers.
The EPA says money saved on healthcare costs will be greater than the amount polluters will need to invest in retooling plants to meet the new standards.
So far, the major delay in the rules has been President Barack Obama's backtracking in September on smog pollution, which came as a disappointment to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Below are important dates for the clean air rules:
CROSS STATE AIR POLLUTION RULE
Finalized by the EPA in July, this rule aims to slash air pollution that blows downwind from coal-fired power plants in the eastern United States. Two days before it was to take effect, a U.S. federal appeals court delayed the implementation, pending further review, after power generators complained about the deadline. The first phase of regulation had been set to begin on January 1, 2012, and the second two years later.
The EPA and the Department of Transportation in December released a plan to double auto fuel efficiency to 54.5 mile per gallon by 2025. Regulators hope to finalize the proposal by summer following a 60-day comment period. The rules, which have rankled some Republicans in Congress, would start taking effect in 2017. Current standards require automakers to raise efficiency across their fleets from 27 mpg today to 35.4 mpg by 2016.
MERCURY, TOXIC POLLUTANTS FROM POWER PLANTS
The EPA finalized rules aimed at slashing mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants in December.The U.S. Midwest power grid operator has said this is the air rule that would close the most coal-fired power plants.
Photo credit: R Greenway, ENN