All of Minnesota's power plants will have to meet new standards for emissions of mercury and other toxic pollution under a rule proposed by the federal government Wednesday.
Minnesota's largest coal-fired power plants are already moving to reduce their mercury emissions by 90 percent compared to 2005 levels. But now, all power plants will have to meet the new federal rules.
Frank Kohlasch at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says there will be some cost saving because utilities can install several different controls for the various pollutants included in the rule -- such as arsenic, chromium and nickel.
"When you're going to install a few things you do it at once vs doing them serially."
Kohlasch said most of Minnesota's airborne mercury comes from out-of-state power plants, so the rule should help clean up the state's waters.
"Absent this action by EPA there's no requirement for mercury reductions from them; this federal rule now sets emissions limits from those facilities that should help achieve our mercury reduction goals in Minnesota," Kohlasch said.
The EPA says for every dollar invested in mercury reduction, Americans will see up to $13 in health and economic benefits.
The federal government says the rules will prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks each year.