EPA Proposes Stronger Rule to Limit Power Plant Discharges

On March 8, EPA announced a proposed rule to establish more stringent wastewater discharge standards for coal-fired power plants under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule uses science-based effluent limitation guidelines to reduce pollutants impacting drinking water sources, recreational waters, and aquatic life. Discharges from coal-fired power plants include pollutants such as selenium, mercury, arsenic, nickel, bromide, chloride, and iodide, nutrient pollution, and total dissolved solids. Bromide in drinking water sources causes the formation of carcinogenic disinfection by-products (DBPs) during drinking water treatment which increases public health risks and treatment costs.

The Agency estimates that the proposed rule would reduce approximately 584 million pounds of pollutants per year by establishing more stringent discharge standards for three types of wastewaters, and also retaining compliance paths for coal-fired power plants that will commit or have committed to stop burning coal. Comments are due May 30, 2023. For more information, go to regulations.gov, read the press release, and visit EPA’s website.