By: Andrea Sears, Public News Service
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed extending compliance deadlines and creating new loopholes in clean-water rules that would allow some coal-fired power plants to keep polluting at current levels for years.
The proposed changes affect rules put in place in 2015. They include looser limits on heavy-metal pollution for some power plants, loosened technology requirements for treating water from pollution controls, and a provision that plants scheduled to close by 2028 would not have to meet some pollution standards at all.
According to Tom Schuster, senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club, without the proposed changes, all of the power plants in the Allegheny River watershed would have to comply with the Obama-era standards by 2023.
“You’re going to end up seeing more pollution from coal ash allowed to be dumped in to the water that ultimately feeds our drinking water systems there,” Schuster said.
The EPA has said the changes would save the power industry $175 million per year and reduce pollutants discharged into waterways by 100 million pounds per year.
But Schuster pointed out that under the 2015 rules, 100% of the water used to move the bottom ash left by coal burned in power plants would have to be recycled.
“Now they’re going to be allowed to dump 10% of the water that’s used to move that ash directly into the river every day, without regard for what is in that water after it contacts the ash,” he said.
Bottom ash contains heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, chromium, and lead as well as other toxins.
Once the proposed rule is published, there will be a 60-day public comment period. Schuster said the EPA will hold one public hearing on December 19 – just a few days before Christmas.
“They’re not necessarily making it easy for people to voice their opinion on this rule, but we’re definitely going to be challenging it and, if necessary, we’ll fight it in the courts,” he said.
In 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection updated water-pollution permits for most coal plants in the Commonwealth to include the Obama-era rules.
The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.
To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II