The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday finalized a rule that could reclassify many “major” sources of pollution as minor ones, allowing facilities to abide by less-stringent emissions standards for dangerous substances such as mercury, lead and arsenic.

The reclassification changes a 1995 rule that for decades has held major emitters to tighter standards even if their operators have taken actions to reduce their pollution – a policy known as “once in, always in.”

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