Friday, April 14, 2017

EPA chief postpones Obama regulations to curb toxic wastewater from coal plants

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has halted an Obama-era regulation "aimed at limiting the dumping of toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury by the nation’s power plants into public waterways," Brady Dennis reports for The Washington Post. "Beginning in 2018, power plants would have had to begin showing that they were using the most up-to-date technology to remove heavy metals—including lead, arsenic, mercury and other pollutants—from their wastewater."

Pruitt wrote this week in a letter to groups that had petitioned the agency to revisit the rule, which was finalized in 2015, "that the EPA plans to postpone compliance deadlines for the regulation, which is also being challenged in a federal court," Dennis writes. EPA said on Thursday the rule would cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars a year to comply with.

Pruitt said in a statement: "This action is another example of EPA implementing President Trump’s vision of being good stewards of our natural resources, while not developing regulations that hurt our economy and kill jobs. Some of our nation’s largest job producers have objected to this rule, saying the requirements set by the Obama administration are not economically or technologically feasible within the prescribed time frame."

Environmental groups said "the Trump administration focused only on potential costs of the rule while ignoring its benefits, and that delays in compliance will endanger wildlife and pose health threats to families that live near coal plants, as exposure to heavy metals can cause problems with cognitive development in children, among other problems," Dennis writes. Mary Anne Hitt, of the Sierra Club, said in a statement: "Trump’s attempt to halt these clean water protections for mercury, lead and arsenic from coal power plants is dangerous and irresponsible."

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