PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The US Environmental Protection Agency got an earful today from opponents of mercury pollution during a hearing in Philadelphia on proposed new power plant regulations.

The new regulations have been needed for years, said the environmentalists and health advocates prowling the halls of the center city hotel where the hearing was being held.

Many of those opponents were young people, others mothers with children in tow, eager to make the point that mercury and other materials in coal have to be stopped from coming out the smokestack.

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epa ins ost EPA Hears Philadelphia Environmentalists Plead For Stricter Coal Plant Regulations

Among the primary reasons not to are the cost — in electricity prices and jobs — but Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says we’re already paying anyway.

“When you think about the cost to implement these changes, remember that in 2007 we spent $56 billion in health care for asthma exacerbations,” he told the panel.

Those asthma exacerbations can be blamed, in part, on particulate pollution.

The coal industry says it is getting cleaner but that it takes time.

Reported by John Ostapkovich, KYW Newsradio 1060

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