That company, for instance, plans to finish mothballing plants near Hutsonville in eastern Illinois and Meredosia on the other side of the state by next spring.

Most of the 90 Ameren employees affected have already agreed to relocate, Bretsch said, and many others are retiring.

Roger Eddy, superintendent of the Hutsonville district schools and a Republican legislator, said he expects to recoup at least some lost revenue from the state. Farmland, commercial or residential property owners might face higher taxes, too.

"When this came out, people here were really like, 'This is going to kill the school district.' It won't," Eddy said.

"I don't see any destitution coming from this," agreed Hutsonville Township supervisor Mike Gray.

Ameren still owns the property, and it will continue to generate property tax revenue for the community of 1,800. At least, he said, until someone challenges that.

In Hammond, Ind., where the State Line Power Station on Lake Michigan near Chicago is scheduled to close March 31, Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. has mixed feelings.

Like other community leaders, he worries about job losses, the effect on vendors and higher electric bills for people who can barely afford to keep their heat and lights on now.

But State Line is one of the dirtiest coal plants in the United States, "and it's in our backyard," he said. "I understand we need to move forward and we need to clean up our environment."

___

Online:

EPA and coal: http://tinyurl.com/cog6cjf

EPA and Clean Air Act: http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/index.html

EPA and mercury: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.htm

___

O'Dell reported from Richmond, Va., and Smith from Morgantown, W.Va. Also contributing were Tom Coyne in South Bend, Ind., and Jim Suhr in St. Louis, Mo.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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