As U.S. EPA works on Clean Air Act revisions to lower sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 73% and 54%, respectively, the National Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility issued a report stating that coal- and oil-fired power plants are the single largest industrial source of toxic emissions in 28 states and the District of Columbia (see here).

The proposed Cross-State Air Pollution Rule replaces the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule that EPA was ordered in 2008 to revise. The rule affects 240 million Americans in 28 eastern states, and is expected to save $280 billion annually on costs related to treatment of cancer, birth defects, and respiratory illnesses like asthma.

Electric utilities are expected to spend $800 million annually in addition to the $1.6 billion in improvements already under way. EPA says the rule levels the playing field for the industry by requiring more power plants to upgrade.

The rule is also expected to improve visibility in state and national parks while better protecting Appalachian streams, Adirondack lakes, estuaries, coastal waters, and forests.