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The Environmental Protection Agency proposed Thursday to give 10 states more flexibility in applying a new rule on power-plant emissions. The EPA made the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule final three months ago. It is intended to reduce smog-forming chemicals emitted from power plants that often drift into other states. States, industry and lawmakers have attacked the rule, saying it will cost jobs and compromise the reliability of electric power.

Under the EPA proposal, 10 of the 27 states affected by the rule will be allowed to emit more pollution than previously allowed. Also, all of the states would have until 2014, rather than 2012, before any associated penalties kick in.

The flexibility proposal is the latest move by the Obama administration to address industry concerns about environmental regulations. Earlier this summer, President Barack Obama forced the EPA to abandon an air-quality rule to curb ozone-forming smog. House Republicans are pushing to roll back the rule as part of legislation that would set federal spending levels for 2012.

The pollutants targeted by the rule can cause heart attacks and respiratory illnesses. The EPA has said the rule will help prevent 34,000 premature deaths a year. (WSJ, 10/7/2011)