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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is preparing to finalize stricter emissions limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness.

The move fulfills a long-delayed campaign promise by President Barack Obama but sets up a fresh confrontation with Republicans. They're already angry about the administration's plans to curb carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants and regulate small streams and wetlands.

Business groups panned the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed ozone rule as unnecessary when it was announced last fall. Opponents call the rule the costliest in history. The EPA argues that public health benefits far outweigh the costs.

The EPA's top air regulator will defend the rule Tuesday at a Senate hearing called by Republicans who vow to "rein in" an agency they say has run amok.

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