PALO ALTO, CALIF.—It wasn’t very good news for the public.., or for the electric power industry. Researchers had found that sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants could aggravate the condition of asthmatics. But the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which financed the research, didn’t flinch.

EPRI was created in 1972 to support research on subjects that are important to the electric utility industry. Its $379 million annual budget comes entirely from contributions by its 700 members. But that long list of subjects, which includes a search for more efficient fuels, a better understandmg of earthquakes, and an investigation into the health effects of power transmission lines, contains many issues that affect the public. And emissions from coal-burning plants is one of them.

That meant the findings—that asthmatics reported temporary bouts of coughing and wheezing induced by exercising near the power plants— belonged in the open literature. So EPRI had them...

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