Pruitt EPA’s Water Pollution Delay Extends Uncertainty for Southeast Coal Plants

Since 1982, little has changed about the toxic pollution coal-fired power plants are allowed to dump in water, although change was on its way. Unfortunately, if EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has his way, our waterways and our health will remain threatened by our nation’s leading source of toxic water pollution – coal fired power plants. We will have to keep on waiting for modern, updated protections and coal plant operators face continued uncertainty over their compliance obligations – uncertainty that may actually accelerate coal’s decline. In early May, Environmental groups challenged the legality Administrator Pruitt’s stay.

In the Southeast, many power plants’ operators were already preparing to meet new 2015 standards, which would go into effect in 2018, updating pollution control technology at their plants and working with state agencies to update state water discharge permits. The 2015 Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs), which represents the first update to these regulations since 1982, nearly eliminates dumping of ash-contaminated wastewater, and for the first time, limits the discharge of toxic heavy metals that come from removing toxics from the air pollution stream and trapping them in sludge as part of the wastewater stream.