WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency finalized rules Friday aimed at reducing toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators while offering industry more flexibility and lower costs to comply with the new standards.
Obama administration officials said most of the 1.5 million boilers nationwide are not covered by the regulation since they are too small or emit too little pollution to warrant controls.
The changes will require pollution controls at about 2,300 of the largest and most polluting boilers nationwide, including those found at refineries and chemical plants. Those boilers will have three years to comply and could be granted a fourth year if they need to install pollution controls.
Another 197,000 smaller boilers would be able to meet the rule through routine tune-ups.
The EPA said it cut the cost of compliance by about $1.5 billion.
Republicans have opposed the environmental regulations as detrimental to business during tough economic times and unsuccessfully tried to slow down the new rules in Congress.
The EPA estimated that despite the flexibility and the decision to target the largest polluters, the rules will still provide significant health benefits. The new standards will prevent up to 8,100 premature deaths, 5,100 heart attacks and 52,000 asthma attacks, according to the agency.