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Fight Continues Over EPA Clean Air Rules

Pete Williamson (cc) flickr

By Matt Laslo

Dallas, TX –

Texas utilities may soon have to comply with tighter air regulations after Texas Republicans failed to defeat new clean air standards. Matt Laslo reports from Washington.

Last week, the Senate voted to reject a bill to unwind new smog regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency says particles from power plants in Texas and 26 other states are spreading illnesses, and even causing deaths, in states on the east coast.

To combat the cross-border pollution, the EPA is forcing those states to drastically cut their emissions, which critics say could cost businesses more than two billion dollars.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison voted to block the new rules.

Kay Bailey Hutchison: We are very concerned about having restrictions put on, well further restrictions, put on our companies on the theory that it's moving to other states.

Hutchison and 40 other senators opposed the rules, but their effort was defeated. Hutchison says the EPA rules aren't fair for Texas because they don't account for pollution coming into the U-S from Mexico.

Kay Bailey Hutchison: In some of the cases we have seen that that comes into American and it counts against the American standards. So it's a very hard thing to measure.

The fight isn't over yet though. A Republican and a Democratic senator are floating proposals to delay the new air standards for at least a year to give businesses more time to comply, but those proposals are currently not scheduled for votes.

Matt Laslo, KERA News, Washington.