The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that hundreds of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants have to either clean up or shut down as part of a new rule outlined last week, The Associated Press reported.
According to the news outlet, the EPA will force plants to control mercury and other toxic pollutants for the first time.
The national standards rein in the biggest source of uncontrolled toxic pollution in the U.S. The emissions from the nation’s coal-and oil-fired power plants, which have been permitted to operate for decades without addressing the impact on the environment and public health costs, the AP reported.
“Before this rule, there were no national standards limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases that power plants across the country could release into the air that we breathe,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said at a conference.
According to TIME Magazine, the public health benefits, as reported by the EPA, will allegedly prevent some 11,000 premature deaths a year and 130,000 childhood asthma symptoms. However, the cost of these regulations may run to $11 billion per year.