WV Rivers Opposes EPA’s Plans to Weaken Regulations on Coal-Fired Power Plants

Mount Storm Power Plant in Grant County.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to weaken two rules that regulate coal fired power plants, the Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG) and the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule. WV Rivers recently submitted comments to EPA opposing these revisions. EPA’s revised rules could weaken regulations for six coal-fired power plants in West Virginia: Fort Martin Power Station, Mount Storm Power Station, John E. Amos Power Station, Harrison Power Station, Pleasants Power Station and the Mitchell Plant.

Coal-fired power plants are responsible for the majority of toxic metals released into our rivers and streams including arsenic, lead, mercury, and selenium. EPA’s Effluent Limitation Guidelines dictate how much toxins these facilities are allowed to discharge. EPA’s proposed changes would allow power plants to discharge higher amounts of arsenic and selenium in their wastewater. In our analysis we found that the Fort Martin Power Plant is already discharging excess selenium and exceeding permit limits. Selenium is a heavy metal that in high concentrations is harmful to human health and toxic to aquatic life.

EPA’s revisions to their Coal Combustion Residuals Rule would extend the deadline of compliance for coal ash disposal and thus delays the closure of leaking coal ash ponds up to 5 to 8 years. A 2015 revision to CCR required power plant with coal ash ponds to conduct annual monitoring reports and corrective action plans. In our analysis, we found all of those reports identified significant increases in groundwater contaminants. Three of the leaking ponds are located within source water protection areas. It is inexcusable for EPA to allow these facilities to continue polluting drinking water sources.

Rather than requiring power plants to use proven technologies to reduces toxic pollutants in our rivers and groundwater, EPA is planning to gut existing regulations that endangers human health and aquatic life. Read our comments on the ELG here and the CCR here.

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