The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has releaseda new set of emissions standards that is expected to pose a challenge for much of the country's coal-fired generation capacity, according to Power Engineering Magazine.
The new rule requires power plants to dramatically reduce their emissions of certain toxins such as mercury, the primary target of the regulations, and arsenic.
The EPA has been charged with the control of air pollution for decades, but court challenges have so far forestalled most of these efforts. Now the agency has issued rules that would require natural gas and coal plants around the country to bring their emissions controls on par with those of the states that already impose mercury emissions restrictions.
The regulatory agency required that power plants all meet the new standards by 2015, though the Obama administration has offered extensions on a case-by-case basis for concerns of cost and reliability in the region. The cost of these new rules is currently estimated at around $9.6 billion, according to Bloomberg, making it one of the most expensive rulings in EPA history.
The Associated Press reports that a recent survey also found that many coal-fired power plants could face difficulty meeting the new standards, with as many as 32 plants expected to close down.