EPA Sued Over Coal Plant Wastewater Rollback
By Rachel Frazin
November 3, 2020 - A coalition of nine environmental groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday over its move to weaken regulations governing wastewater from coal-fired power plants.
In August, the EPA finalized a rule loosening requirements for treating discharges of toxic pollution from power plants that were set by the Obama administration. It also delayed the implementation of the requirements and exempted some plants.
Groups suing the agency argued that the rule is bad for water quality.
“Trump's EPA is propping up a dying industry that has put our health at risk for decades, and fueled the climate crisis, by giving them a free pass to continue to dump deadly pollution into our water. This rule puts the most vulnerable communities at further risk,” said a statement from Jennifer Peters, Clean Water Action’s water programs director.
An EPA spokesperson declined to comment, saying that the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The agency argued in August that its rule would actually end up reducing pollution.
"Newer, more affordable pollution control technologies and flexibility on the regulation’s phase-in will reduce pollution and save jobs at the same time," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement at the time.
The agency's pollution estimate was based on the assumption that a handful of plants would opt into a voluntary program with more stringent regulations.
The rule gives facilities until the end of 2025 to be compliant, two years longer than the 2015 rule’s deadline at the end of 2023. It also exempts facilities that are expected to shutter by 2028.