The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday it intends to set more stringent standards on water pollution from coal power plants, reinstating regulations that the Trump administration had rolled back.
It’s a stark reversal from the position of the former President’s administration, which rolled back dozens of Obama-era environmental regulations. The new rule would affect around 100 coal-fired power plants, according to an EPA official.
The EPA announced it would begin the rule-making process to reduce coal-fired power plant pollution — including toxic metals like mercury, arsenic and selenium — but the change will likely take years to go into effect, leaving the weaker wastewater regulations in place during that time.
The EPA said Monday it intends to issue a proposed rule for public comment in the fall of 2022. The agency is hoping to finalize the rule by late 2023 or early 2024, according to an EPA official. In the meantime, pollutants can still make their way into rivers and other bodies of water near coal power plants.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a Monday news release the agency would “quickly move to strengthen water quality protections and further reduce power plant pollution that can contain toxic metals such as mercury, arsenic, and selenium.”
“EPA is committed to science-based policy decisions to protect our natural resources and public health,” he said in the statement.
Still, some environmental advocates are upset that Biden’s administration didn’t take more urgent action to prevent pollution during the lengthy process.
“This is an unconscionable giveaway to the coal industry that will allow our streams and rivers to be poisoned with heavy metal toxins for at least four more years,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
This is a developing story and it will be updated.
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