On Monday, the U.S. EPA issued a new rule relaxing the Obama era requirements for treating waste produced by coal-fired power plants. Under the new rule, companies would have more time and flexibility to treat power plant wastewater that contains mercury, arsenic, and other toxic heavy metals. The new rule achieves this by allowing plants that are reducing, or eliminating the use of coal to continue to use outdated water treatment technology to cleanup emission control equipment inside the coal-fired plant's smoke stakes. The byproduct of this process is water that is contaminated with heavy metals which has historically been stored in unlined ponds until discharge into the nation's waterways. The Obama era rule mandated a dry treatment process which industry representatives claimed that it was not economically achievable.

Originally published by Smith Gambrell, September 2020

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