EPA Sets Final Coal Ash Rule, Rolling Back Obama-Era Regulations

Sep 7, 2020

by ASME.org

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its final rule governing discharge from coal-fired power plants. The new rule changes which technologies are allowed for treating coal-plant waste and gives power plants more time to install systems that meet the requirement. The original rule set by the Obama administration was stricter and sought to protect drinking water from toxic plant discharge. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says that the new Trump administration rule is aimed at “advancing American energy independence and protecting the environment.”

 

The rule has been discussed for quite some time and the final rule has only minor changes compared to previously released version. The final rule expands exemptions for power plants that are set to be retired soon, expanding the exemption to plants that plan to switch their fuel source. Another change is that the rule was expected to limit wastewater purges to 10% of their total water on a rolling 30-day average. However, the final rule grants greater authority to local officials, allowing them to set their own discharge caps for each plant.

 

EPA say the new rule is expected to save the energy power sector $140 million per year, and also reduce coal-plant discharge by one million pounds per year. Some question these numbers as the technology required by the Trump administration rule is less effective than previous technology requirements, but the Trump administration believes that the new rule will further encourage plants to voluntarily seek out better technology than is actually required by the rule. Rather than require better, more expensive technology, the Trump administration believes the flexibility of its new rule will lead to better outcomes overall.

 

To read the EPA’s full press release, visit: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-finalizes-power-plant-effluent-limitation-guidelines-save-money-and-reduce.

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