EPA toughens air pollution standards for power plants

Dec 22, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the first-ever national standards to reduce toxic air emissions from coal and oil-fired power plants. As St. Louis Public Radio's VERONIQUE LACAPRA reports, the new protections will mean big changes for Missouri.

The rule requires Ameren and other electricity companies to reduce power plant emissions of mercury and other toxic air contaminants by 2016. Ameren's Vice President of Environmental Services, Mike Menne, says all of Ameren's Missouri power plants will need new pollution controls. Menne says bringing those plants into compliance will cost hundreds of millions of dollars: “It's really difficult to say what the impact might be on rates, because we're talking three to five years down the road when these costs will actually be incurred. But it obviously is going to force some upward pressure in our electric rates.”

Environmental groups nationwide are praising the new emissions standards, saying they will improve air quality and help protect human health and the environment.