An environmental group is criticizing Ameren for spending money on lobbying against power plant regulations instead of complying with them. The Natural Resources Defense Council says Ameren spent $7.5 million on lobbying from 2010 through the first quarter of this year, during which time emissions from their coal-burning power plants caused health consequences worth $6.9 billion. Ameren was one of eight big power companies examined, says Peter Altman, climate and clean air campaign director for the NRDC.

“We want to see these companies focus their money on cleaning up the pollution rather than using litigation and lobbying to block, weaken and delay important improvements in clean air protections,” he said.

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The NRDC report says pollution from Ameren plants in 2011 contributed to 920 deaths, 6,000 asthma attacks and 640 emergency room visits.

The group says the company is moving toward compliance, so it does not understand why Ameren spent millions fighting the rules.

Ameren has not yet responded.