The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to ease an air quality rule that would require power plants in 27 states to slash emissions, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule issued in July targets smog-forming chemicals from power plants that often drift between states. The rule calls for much stricter limits on emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulpur dioxide (SO2), from coal and natural gas-fired power plants from January.

The EPA plans to propose as early as this week to allow certain states and companies to emit more pollutants than permitted under rules finalized in July, said the paper.

Emissions increases of 1–4 per cent above the July requirement will be permitted, depending on the pollutant.

Relaxing the regulations is unlikely to meet all the concerns of power generation companies. Luminant, Texas’s largest power generator, has said it would idle two generating units to comply. Ameren Corp said it would shut two Illinois power plants.

The EPA has already been forced into a climbdown over rules for ozone-forming smog and greenhouse-gas emissions following pressure by the industry on the White House.

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