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Top Morning Stories December 22, 2011

Photo by Ben Philpott
Rick Perry wraps up the second leg of his Iowa bus tour later today

Governor Rick Perry Wraps Up Bus Tour Second Leg Today

Today is the last day of Governor Rick Perry's eight-day bus tour through Iowa. Tomorrow Perry will return to Texas for a brief Christmas break, then it's back to campaigning. KUT's Ben Philpott reports from the Iowa bus tour on whether this tour has helped his chances in the state.

Trinity River Defies Drought

There’s a curious development in this year’s record-setting drought. The Trinity River, which runs south from Dallas and empties into the gulf just east of Houston, has kept right on flowing. From KUHF, StateImpact Texas reporter Dave Fehling has details.

EPA Issues Mercury Ruling

The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules yesterday to limit emissions of toxic pollution, including mercury, from U.S. coal and natural gas power plants.

The rules could affect the Fayette coal plant near La Grange, where Austin gets about 20 percent of its power.

At a news conference, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the new rules will have big implications for public health.

“Once the rule is fully implemented in 2016, it will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 3,100 emergency room visits among children,” Jackson said.

Out at the Fayette Coal Plant, LCRA Power and Gas Operations Manager Andrew Valencia was awaiting the announcement and wondering what it meant for their operations.

“There is definitely cost to remove mercury, Valencia said. “There’s going to be some additional equipment and probably some maintenance cost.”

Valencia says the Fayette Plant already has scrubbers that remove 20 to 25 percent of the plant’s mercury emissions, and they’re looking into other technology to bring that number even higher.