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Senate upholds EPA standards for coal

June 20, 2012 at 4:06 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Wednesday voted against a Republican measure that would eliminate regulations cutting mercury and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Five Republicans joined 48 Democrats in the 53-46 vote against the resolution, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency regulations, The Hill reported.

Supporters of the measure said the regulations will cause some power plants to shut down, increase prices and damage the economy.

"A substantial amount of the electricity we produce in the country comes from coal. And this new regulation would devastate the jobs that depend on this cheap, abundant resource," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor before the vote.

Supporters of the EPA rules argue some coal plant closures are inevitable because of competition from natural gas. The EPA says the standards will prevent 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 cases of childhood asthma annually.

"The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will ensure that the nation's power plants install modern, widely available technologies to limit harmful pollution -- leveling the playing field for power plants that already have such controls in place," the White House said Monday.

Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Mark Warner and Jim Webb of Virginia were the five Democratic senators voting for Inhofe's resolution. Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee joined Democrats to defeat the measure.

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