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The Associated Press May 24, 2011, 1:32PM ET

EPA hears from public on proposed power plant rule

The public is getting its chance to weigh in on a proposed federal rule to regulate toxins from coal-fired power plants.

A daylong hearing Tuesday in Chicago is one of several being held around the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate toxic air emissions like mercury, lead, arsenic and acid gas from coal-fired plants.

Environmental and medical groups say the new regulations will help prevent respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children.

Some industry groups accuse the EPA of inflating the benefits and argue it would cost billions of dollars every year to comply with new pollution-control technology.

There currently are no limits on how much mercury or other toxic pollutants can be released from a power plant's smoke stacks.

Illinois has 23 coal-fired plants.

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