The US administration overhauled rules Wednesday to cut air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators but at almost half the price of initial plans criticized by industrial groups.
US Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy said the final regulations would provide benefits similar to the previous ones but at a reduced cost.
"The Clean Air Act standards we are issuing today are based on the best available science and have benefited from significant public input," said McCarthy, who heads the EPA's air and radiation office.
"As a result, they put in place important public health safeguards to cut harmful toxic air emissions that affect children's development, aggravate asthma and cause heart attacks at costs."
The initially proposed standard would have cost 20 billion dollars and the loss of 300,000 jobs, according to an industry-financed study. The EPA put its estimate at $3.5 billion.
In comparison, the EPA said the new version of the rule would cost $1.8 billion a year and create over 2,000 new jobs.
The latest move came after President Barack Obama vowed to review a broad range of regulations in the midst of a brutal economic crisis and a court ruling that ordered the government to act by this week.
Although the agency met the judge's deadline, it said it would be open to comments and proposed changes from businesses, lawmakers and citizens.
Some industrial groups nonetheless said the rules were still too tough.
Aric Newhouse, senior vice president for policy and government relations at the National Association of Manufacturers, criticized what the called an example of the "EPA's aggressive, overreaching agenda."
"This is a harsh, inflexible rule that will cost jobs, hurt global competitiveness and may discourage projects that could otherwise lead to environmental improvements," Newhouse added in a statement.
Approximately 200,000 boilers, incinerators and small-scale power plants will be affected by the new regulations. They are the source of most air-borne toxic emissions, such as mercury and toxins, in the United States.
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