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US EPA postpones power plant effluent guidelines

US EPA postpones power plant effluent guidelines”

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators will reconsider portions of an Obama administration rule regulating coal ash, a byproduct of fossil fuel-fired power plants.

In 2015 the Obama administration developed new limits on metals including lead, mercury, and arsenic in coal-fired plants' wastewater, set to go into effect in 2018. But the former Oklahoma attorney general also has stated his concerns about the financial health of the coal industry and his desire to help coal companies recover from their long period of decline. This is especially relevant when considering the massive flood devastation by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the numerous coal ash pits in both Florida and Texas. "We know that this pollution can cause brain damage in children as well as cancer". Earthjustice called the delay to the limits "a bold-faced gift to the coal industry at the expense of the health of families everywhere". "On an annual basis, the rule is projected to reduce the amount of toxic metals, nutrients, and other pollutants that steam electric power plants are allowed to discharge by 1.4 billion pounds and reduce water withdrawal by 57 billion gallons". Compliance dates for the rules, which were issued in November 2015, have been pushed back by two years, the EPA says. That lawsuit is pending, and environmentalists say they'll challenge the new move as well.

Postponing the rule for two years would give utilities relief from the pending deadlines to upgrade pollution-control equipment while the agency revisits some of the rule's requirements, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.

In granting the petitions, EPA determined that it was appropriate, and in the public's interest to reconsider specific provisions of the final CCR rule based in part on the authority provided through the Water Infrastructure for Improvements to the Nation (WIIN) Act.

Meanwhile, the EPA's existing rules from 1982 remain in effect.

Almost 40 percent of all coal plants discharge toxic pollution within five miles of a downstream community's drinking water intake.

Wednesday's action was narrowed to apply to wastewater from scrubbers - the equipment that takes sulfur out of smokestacks - and water used to flush out the coal ash that settles at the bottom of the plant boilers. Pruitt's decision to target the new clean water protections is another heartless ploy by the Trump administration scrap progress on protecting our families from toxic coal ash.



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