Friday, November 01, 2019

EPA to roll back rules keeping coal-fired power plants from polluting water supplies with heavy metals

"The Trump administration is expected to roll back an Obama-era regulation meant to limit the leaching of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury into water supplies from the ash of coal-fired power plants, according to two people familiar with the plans," Lisa Friedman reports for The New York Times. "With a series of new rules expected in the coming days, the Environmental Protection Agency will move to weaken the 2015 regulation that would have strengthened inspection and monitoring at coal plants, lowered acceptable levels of toxic effluent and required plants to install new technology to protect water supplies from contaminated coal ash." A significant number of power plants would be exempted from following any of those requirements, according to the sources.

Coal-fired power plants have come under public scrutiny in recent years for their environmental impact. Several plants polluted local water supplies after stored coal ash, the byproduct of burning coal, leeched into nearby lakes or rivers, Friedman reports. The move would be the latest of many efforts by the Trump administration to help the coal industry, as coal-fired power plants have increasingly shut down because of competition from natural gas and renewable energy.

"Environmental groups warned that the regulatory rollback could lead to contaminated drinking water and birth defects, cancer and stunted brain development in young children," Friedman reports. "Energy analysts said the administration’s latest gambit to bolster the industry would not save the industry from its long decline."

No comments: