DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas-based electricity generator Luminant is closing two coal-fired power plant units and eliminating about 500 jobs in Texas because of a new federal air pollution rule.

In a news release Monday, Luminant said in addition to idling the power plants in East Texas, it will stop mining coal at three of its Texas mines.

The moves are in response to the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which was enacted in July.  The government says the rule, which takes effect on January 1, will “protect the health of millions of Americans.”  It requires power plants to reduce polluting emissions.

Luminant also says it is suing the EPA to invalidate the rule in Texas.  The company says the rule “will inflict immediate and irreparable harm” on its employees, customers, and the company itself.

The EPA estimates the rule will prevent 13,000 premature deaths nationwide each year, in addition to 1.8 million missed work or school days, and other health benefits.

Overall, the government says the rule will produce at least $120 billion in annual health and environmental benefits.  The EPA projects that the rule will cost $800 million to implement each year.

Luminant says to meet the January 1 deadline, it will idle its Monticello Units 1 and 2.

Those two units can generate 1,200 megawatts of power.  That’s about 1.7% of Texas’ record peak demand of 68,294 megawatts, which was set on August 3 of this year.

The company will also stop using Texas lignite coal at three of its power plants, switching instead to a higher grade of coal from Wyoming.

Scientists say lignite is the lowest grade of coal.  Texas is one of only two states that burn lignite coal for power, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Luminant is the biggest electricity generator in Texas.  It is owned by Energy Future Holdings, the same company that owns Oncor, which distributes power statewide, and TXU Energy, the state’s biggest retail electric provider.

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