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Thursday December 22, 2011 | 07:45 AM

Sen. Olympia Snowe says she is “encouraged” by new federal rules limiting mercury and toxic air pollution emitted by coal-fired plants.

The Maine Republican has often come down on the side of limiting new federal regulations this year, but Snowe said that she long has sought to reduce pollution wafting into Maine from states to the west that rely on coal-fired plants for much of their electricity.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the rules Wednesday. Environmentalists and other advocates of the rules say the health and environmental benefits far outweigh the costs to utility companies, but critics of the rules say the rules could raise the cost of power and harm the economy.

“It is unacceptable that these costs are simply transferred from one region to another and that is why I have long supported reducing mercury pollution with cost-effective technologies,” Snowe said in a statement.  “I am encouraged that this rule will significantly reduce mercury pollution in Maine and I look forward to reviewing this final rule to ensure it provides Maine families the healthy air they deserve while not overburdening our country’s electricity system.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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