EPA Sets New Limits on Smog

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Environmental regulators say the air in hundreds of counties is too dirty to breathe. The Environmental Protection Agency is ordering local officials to pay for a cleanup that will cost billions of dollars. But the EPA's goal for reducing allowable smog levels is less ambitious than the recommendations of its own scientists.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

NPR's business news starts with new rules for smog.

Environmental regulators plan to reduce the amount of smog they allow in the air. Yesterday the EPA said the air in hundreds of counties is too dirty to breathe. It's is ordering local officials to clean up the air in a move that will cost billions of dollars. The aim is to reduce heart attacks and asthma cases related to air pollution.

Still, the EPA's reduction in allowable smog levels is smaller than the one recommended by its own scientists, who say these changes may not be worth it. They're too minor.

Utility companies have been fighting the new regulation. They say it could cause economic hardship and higher energy costs.

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