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E.P.A. to Roll Back Rules to Control Toxic Ash from Coal Plants

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'This year, the E.P.A. proposed a number of separate amendments to the coal-ash regulations, including extending by 18 months the time that industry could use certain sites adjacent to groundwater areas for dumping. A recent study by environmental groups found that more than 90 percent of the 265 coal plants required to test their groundwater near coal ash dumps discovered unsafe levels of at least one contaminant. According to environmental groups that track the problem, power plants discharge more than 1 billion pounds of pollutants every year into 4,000 miles of rivers, contaminating the drinking water and fisheries of 2.7 million people.' Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the E.P.A.  who is a former lobbyist for the coal industry, says that the relaxed rules would save affected utility companies $28 million to $31 million a year in regulatory costs' Got it from the swamp master.

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Susan Lee Schwartz

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This is what happens when the box is uncharge of the hen house.

"

In 2014, a broken pipe spilled millions of gallons of liquefied coal ash from a retired power plant into the Dan River in North Carolina. It turned the water into dark sludge and threatened drinking water supplies. The electric utility Duke Energy later agreed to pay a $6 million fine for violating water protection laws. The spill also prompted the passage of a new state law in North Carolina that requires all coal ash storage ponds be closed by 2029.

Utility companies and coal industry supporters say the Obama administration overreacted to those events, in large part because the administration wanted to force the closure of coal-fired power plants by eliminating ways of disposing of coal ash.

Environmentalists vehemently disagreed. Lisa Evans, general counsel for Earthjustice, an environmental group, called the E.P.A.'s plan "a huge step backward and incredibly dangerous."

Agency officials held a conference call Tuesday with supporters of the Trump administration's deregulatory efforts to discuss the measure, multiple people on the call confirmed.

According to the E.P.A., about 1.1 million Americans live within three miles of a coal plant that discharges pollutants into a public waterway. The 2015 rule set deadlines for power plants to invest in modern wastewater treatment technology to keep toxic pollution out of local waterways. The regulation also required them to monitor local water quality and make more of the information publicly available. The Obama administration estimated the regulations would stop about 1.4 billion pounds of toxic metals and other pollutants from pouring into rivers and streams. "


Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 5, 2019 at 3:15:29 PM

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