WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday it was committed to finalizing a standard on mercury emissions by November 16 after 25 states urged a court to force the agency to delay the rule.
"EPA is committed to completing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards -- the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants," the EPA said in a release.
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency was on track to finalize the rule, which targets older, inefficient power plants fired by coal and oil, as expected by November 16. The agency is under court order to finalize the rule, also known as the maximum achievable control technology, or MACT, rule for utilities.
Late Monday, 25 states filed a brief with the U.S. District Court in Washington urging the court to push EPA to delay finalization of the rule until November 16, 2012 or later, complaining the standard would kill jobs and saddle industry with costs at the worst possible time.
The agency is under pressure from business groups and Republicans in the House of Representatives to ease or delay a raft of air pollution rules. This month, the House passed a bill that would delay air rules including the mercury standard. But the measure faces an uphill battle in the Senate and the White House has said President Barack Obama would veto it.
The rule could affect power plants EPA has said the mercury rule would save $5 to $13 in health benefits for every dollar that is spent to reduce the pollution and create jobs in pollution control industries.
More than half of all coal-fired power plants have already deployed the pollution control technologies that allow them to meet the standards, the EPA said.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio)
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