News Feature | May 16, 2017

EPA Halting Heavy Metals Wastewater Rule

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

fracking processing plant reg new

The U.S. EPA is planning to overhaul a rule governing the treatment of toxic metals in power plant wastewater.

“The Trump administration has hit the pause button on an Obama-era regulation aimed at limiting the dumping of toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury by the nation’s power plants into public waterways,” The Washington Post reported.

Under the rule as it had existed previously, power plants would have to show evidence they are using the latest technology to treat heavy metals in wastewater.

However, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated last month that he will postpone deadlines for complying with the regulation. The rule is being challenged in court, the report said. The EPA will reconsider the Clean Water Act Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) and standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category.

“Pruitt acted last month at the behest of the industry-funded Utility Water Act Group (UWAG), which claimed the new EPA pollution limits would result in plant closures and job losses. The move is part of a broad effort by the Trump administration to scrap stricter environmental regulations enacted over the last eight years, especially those intended to curtail the use of fossil fuels,” the Associated Press reported.

“The EPA cited in its pre-publication Federal Register Notice that UWAG has disclosed new data that may indicate the challenged regulation’s standards cannot be met with the model technologies the EPA identified in its ELG rulemaking,” The National Law Review reported.

Mary Anne Hitt, a director of at the Sierra Club, called the decision “appalling.”

“After years of peer-reviewed studies, extensive input from medical experts and scientists, and thorough review of public comments, the EPA made the right call in finalizing strong clean water protections against coal plants dumping toxic heavy metals into our waterways. Despite all this, Trump’s EPA Administrator is trying to throw it all away to placate polluters who could care less about the health of our communities,” she said in a statement.

Environmental groups responded to the news with a lawsuit.

“A coalition of about a dozen groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia,” the AP reported.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Wastewater Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.

Image credit: "complexity," john mcsporran © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/