In a personal response to a request from a syndicate of the country’s biggest and richest power companies, Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt began dismantling a 2015 rule that put the first-ever limits on toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Power plants are by far the largest source of toxic water pollution in America, loading over a quarter million pounds of lead, arsenic, and other poisonous substances into public waterways every hour (2.2 billion pounds per year). Nearly 35% of all coal plants discharge toxic pollution within 5 miles upstream of a public drinking water intake, and 81% of all coal plants discharge within 5 miles of a public drinking water well.
The 2015 rule – known as the Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) – would dramatically reduce pollution discharges by requiring utilities to use cost-effective, modern pollution controls to treat water pollution. The Trump EPA is now seeking to postpone, weaken, or even eliminate the rule, allowing the industry to continue dumping billions of pounds of toxic pollution into waterways every year.
“Scott Pruitt is continuing his scorched-earth crusade to sweep aside anything that gets in the way of fossil fuel industry profits. Unfortunately, it’s our health and clean water at stake this time. American families are an afterthought for this administration, which isn’t shy about favoring corporate polluters over the safety of our drinking water,” said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Pete Harrison. “This rollback gives a blank check to the power companies, and it directly threatens drinking water supplies across the country.”