Waterkeeper Alliance Responds to Trump Administration’s Coal Rollbacks - Waterkeeper

Waterkeeper Alliance Responds to Trump Administration’s Coal Rollbacks

By: Waterkeeper Alliance

The rulemakings will release hundreds of millions of pounds of toxins into waterways

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed new rulemakings that will allow coal-fired power plants to release hundreds of millions of additional pounds of pollutants in our waterways and continue to store coal ash in leaking, unlined pits well beyond the deadlines under current law.

EPA’s proposed revisions to the Steam Electric Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG rule) weakens toxic pollutant discharge limits, pushes back compliance deadlines for certain types of coal ash waste streams, and weakens or eliminates all requirements for broad categories of coal-fired power plants. The agency claims that the rule will lead to pollution reductions through “voluntary incentive programs,” despite extensive historical evidence showing that relying on voluntary action from industry does not lead to meaningful pollution reduction. EPA is attempting to weaken the ELG rule despite a federal appeals court ruling earlier this year in a case brought by Waterkeeper Alliance and partners that the current rule is already too lenient.

The proposed revisions to the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule (CCR rule) are EPA’s response to a 2018 court victory by Waterkeeper Alliance and partners that found that EPA could not allow coal ash disposal in unlined and inadequately lined pits. This rulemaking will give companies even more time to close unlined coal ash pits and ones located in unsafe locations, despite extensive evidence demonstrating most of these sites are leaking toxic coal ash pollutants into groundwater. 

Statement from Waterkeeper Alliance Staff Attorney Larissa Liebmann:

“Today we again saw the Trump administration put dirty coal ahead of the public’s health and the health of our shared waterways. EPA is putting communities at risk from toxic coal ash and it’s doing so for one reason only: To save coal companies money. Waterkeeper Alliance has consistently fought against weak coal rules and will continue to fight the Trump administration’s shameless assault on our public health and environmental protections.”