EPA moving forward with long-delayed rules to protect fish

After a three-month delay, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with a rule that will protect billions of fish each year from being sucked into cooling water systems used by existing power plants.

Power plants take water from nearby lakes and rivers to cool the equipment they use to generate electricity, but in the process many fish, crabs and shrimp are trapped and killed, the EPA said.

To remedy this problem, the EPA is issuing new requirements for more than 1,000 existing power plants to take measures to stop fish from getting sucked into these systems and getting trapped once they're there.

The power plants will have the option of using any of seven different technologies designed to prevent fish from getting trapped in the cooling equipment.

But more than 40 percent of these existing power plants already employ such technologies, lessening the impact on the industry.

The EPA said the rules were coming back in May, but waited until Thursday to publish them in the Federal Register, where it established they will go into effect in 60 days.

The delay in implementation could further upset environmental groups, which sued the EPA to enforce such rules and said the rules announced in May were "beyond disappointing."

But Republicans and business groups say the rules will kill jobs and raise electricity prices.