Environmental groups say Pennsylvania's federally mandated plan to reduce smog would allow coal-fired power plants to emit more pollution than they do now.

The state has been working on a proposal to curb ground-level ozone in 17 counties where the federal government says smog levels remain too high and pose a health risk to the young, the elderly, people with asthma and others. The proposed regulations will be published Saturday.

The Sierra Club, the American Lung Association and other groups say that proposed emissions limits for coal-fired power plants are too lax. The biggest plants would be allowed to release more than 130,000 tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxides annually — 40 percent more than they do now, according to an analysis by the Sierra Club.

Produced during combustion, nitrogen oxides, or NOx, combine with volatile organic compounds to form ground-level ozone, which can worsen such respiratory conditions as bronchitis and asthma. The primary culprits are vehicle exhaust and electrical power plants.

Power plants "are the single largest source of smog-causing pollution and they are not being meaningfully addressed," Sierra Club spokeswoman Kim Teplitzky said Wednesday. "That they would even put this into a draft is astounding."



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