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Energy & Environment

EPA Orders Texas Coal-burners To Clean Up Smoke

Environmentalists are praising a ruling that was just released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It means coal-burning power plants in Texas will have to install “scrubbers” to reduce air pollution.

piles of coal
Dave Fehling
The Big Brown power plant in Freestone County burns coal mined nearby.

It's called the Regional Haze Rule. The EPA and Texas have been fighting about it for years but now the federal environmental regulator has issued a final version.

It calls for some of the worst-polluting coal-burning power plants in Texas — mostly north of Houston — to install expensive scrubbers within 5 years. The equipment removes pollution like sulfur dioxide which is linked to health problems.

Environmental groups hailed the ruling; the Sierra Club saying it will "mean healthier air in cities across Texas." The group Earthjustice said Texas power plants were behind those in other states in installing pollution controls and that EPA's new rule will bring the plants into the 21st century.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott had opposed the new rule, calling it an unlawful, costly effort that wouldn't have any benefits.