Happening today: EPA hearing in Philly on coal plant pollution

    Federal environmental officials are holding a public hearing today in Philadelphia on proposed standards for toxic air pollution from power plants.

    The Environmental Protection Agency wants the public’s input on rules to curb emissions of mercury, arsenic, lead, nickel, chromium and acid gases from coal plants.

    Coal provides 45 percent of the nation’s electricity, and Pennsylvania’s 40 plants put the commonwealth in the front ranks of coal-burning states.

    An estimated 50 percent of Pennsylvania’s aging coal plants will have to make major investments to reduce emissions, or switch to cleaner fuels, in order to meet the tighter rules.

    Philadelphia is one of three cities in which the EPA is holding public comment sessions. A similar hearing is happening in Chicago today, and another is planned for Atlanta on Thursday.

    Read WHYY’s Susan Phillips’ breakdown of coal emissions versus the risks of drilling for natural gas here.

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