Pruitt's letter was filed with the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans, since it is now hearing legal challenges to the wastewater rule. But EPA asked the court to freeze the challenges, since Pruitt is trying to rewrite the standards. He first moved to delay implementation of the new standards in April, spurred by utilities companies that opposed them.
"While that process moves ahead, EPA's existing guidelines from 1982 remain in effect. Those standards were set when far less was known about the detrimental impacts of even tiny levels of heavy metals on human health and aquatic life," Biesecker reports. If the 2015 rule were implemented, the EPA estimates that power plants would produce 1.4 billion fewer pounds of pollution per year. About 12 percent of steam electric power plants would need to spend money on bringing their plants up to compliance with the tougher standards.