WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its rule allowing power plants to dump more toxic pollution into the nation’s waterways. This decision reverses progress made under a 2015 policy. Currently, power plants account for 30 percent of toxic discharges to waterways, including arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium, according to EPA data. A federal court found last year that the agency’s 2015 regulations governing power plants already fell short of the protections required by law.
John Rumpler, Clean Water Program director for Environment America Research and Policy Center, issued the following statement:
“The EPA’s new Toxic Water Pollution Rule puts the health of our rivers and the safety of our drinking water at risk from pollution. Our water needs more protection from power plant pollution, not less.
“This new rule creates an open-door policy that would allow power plants to unleash roughly three times as much selenium - a cancer-causing toxin - as permitted under the agency’s previous guidelines. The rule also delays compliance with pollution limits until 2025, and exempts some power plants from key protections.
“In addition, this retrograde rule puts our drinking water at risk. It allows power plants to continue releasing bromide - a substance that creates toxic compounds when mixed with disinfectants used at some drinking water treatment plants.
“The sad truth is that burning coal produces arsenic, mercury, lead and selenium — toxic waste that has no place in the lakes where we swim, the rivers where we fish or the water we drink. Yet instead of transitioning us away from these toxic hazards, the EPA would allow power plants to continue dumping them into our waterways. . We cannot allow our nation to go backwards on clean water and are confident that the courts will overturn this terrible policy.”