After more than six years of debate, the U.S. EPA yesterday said it would draft standards to require coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions of mercury. The National Academy of Sciences has determined that as many as 60,000 babies may be exposed to unhealthy levels of mercury each year because either they or their mothers have eaten contaminated fish. The EPA has already imposed mercury limits on sources such as medical incinerators, and EPA Administrator Carol Browner said that power plants were the greatest remaining source of mercury emissions. She said standards would be proposed in late 2003. The Edison Electric Institute, a utility lobbying group, responded that the science was still out about mercury’s health risks.

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