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EPA to propose new sulfur dioxide rules

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Steve Chiotakis: We could hear from the Environmental Protection Agency any day now with proposed new standards that would limit our exposure to sulfur dioxide. That’s a pollutant shown to make some health conditions worse. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: Coal-fired power plants and many factories release sulfur dioxide. There are already rules about how much they can emit in a year and still meet safe air standards. And there are rules about how much they can emit in a day.

But Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch says that day rule leaves a loophole. He says industries can spew a lot of sulfur dioxide out within an hour or two and still meet the daily average. But he says that could be one filthy hour:

Frank O’Donnell: We have a real strong need to set a standard that actually protects people from those short-term busts of sulfur dioxide that can send people to hospital emergency rooms with asthma attacks.

Any change to the current standards would mean industry would have to make some changes of its own.

Dan Esty teaches at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy:

Dan Esty: This may well involve getting lower sulfur fuels. But it’ll also involve for many companies probably investing more in pollution-control equipment for their smoke stacks.

He says many companies may already have seen the changes coming, and are probably making preparations.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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