EPA to issue new mercury and air toxic standards Friday - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

EPA to issue new mercury and air toxic standards Friday

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Jerry Willcoxson of Cedar Rapids and her five-year-old son lived with a coal fired power plant almost literally in their backyard.

"We used to live less than a half a mile from it," Willcoxson said. 

Willcoxson has since moved.  She says she was concerned living so close to the plant.

"There's always chemicals that came out of it.  I didn't really care for being there too close," she said.

On Friday the Environmental Protection Agency will announce new standards limiting the amount of mercury, acid gases, and other toxic pollutants emitted from power plants.  These pollutants pose serious health and environmental concerns.

Alliant Energy owns several power plants in the state..  Company spokesperson Justin Foss says the company has anticipated the changes and has been working to prepare for EPA's new rules.

"We've been working to diversify our generation fleet so that we'll be ready to act when the new rules do come down," Foss said. 

New standards mean power plants will have to add new equipment to reduce emissions.

With the changes come significant costs.

"We just encourage our customers to remember  the more environmental upgrades you have to do to make a cleaner burning product, it costs customers more," Foss said.

But the EPA finds the potential benefits outweigh the financial price.

"The EPA's analysis shows that for one dollar invested in this technology, we expect at least six dollars back in health benefits," said Jim Hodina, Air Pollution Control Officer with Linn County.

Willcoxson agrees.

"I think it needs to be regulated, a lot more than it is now."

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