EPA delays rules on wastewater from coal-fired plants

September 14, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) postponed until 2020 new limits on toxic metals and other pollutants in the wastewater of coal-fired power plants, Reuters reported.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement that the move “resets the clock” for the effluent guidelines for power plants, providing relief to the plants from existing regulatory deadlines while the agency studies the regulation. Previously, plants were to comply with the rule by Nov. 1, 2018 but this decision moves that deadline to Nov. 1, 2020.

The rule, which the Obama administration finalized in 2015, set new limits on metals linked to human health problems including lead, mercury and arsenic in the waste water of the coal-fired plants. High levels of mercury in the bloodstream, for instance, can cause learning problems in children.
The EPA estimates that annual compliance costs to coal plants, once the rule goes into effect, will be $480 million. Benefits associated with the pollution reductions will be worth $451 million to $566 million a year, it estimates.

The move is one of a series of actions by the administration of President Donald Trump to roll back more stringent Obama-era environmental standards, particularly affecting the coal and oil industries.

The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Utility Water Act Group had both petitioned the EPA to delay the rule.

 

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