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New EPA Rule Brings Power Plant Water Toxic Standards into the 21st Century

Victory: Earthjustice litigation helps stop power plants from polluting waterways
The massive coal ash disaster in Kingston, Tennessee.

In 2008, the massive coal ash spill from the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee destroyed homes, poisoned rivers and contaminated coves and residential drinking water.

Photo courtesy of Appalachian Voices
September 30, 2015
Washington, D.C. —

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule today that requires coal-burning power plants to clean up nearly all of the toxic pollution that they dump into America’s waters each day. After 30+ years of inaction, the EPA updated requirements that power plants use affordable, state-of-the-art technologies to reduce their pollution—or eliminate it where feasible.

This ruling comes after Earthjustice, representing environmental groups, filed a lawsuit in 2010 to force EPA to take action to better regulate pollution from the fossil fuel industry.

Power plants dump more pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, and lead into our waters than the next nine industries combined. EPA’s final rule will require power plants to eliminate the majority of this pollution, resulting in thousands of river miles that are safer to swim and fish in, and hundreds of cleaner water bodies that are vital drinking water sources.

Statement from Earthjustice attorney Thomas Cmar

"We don’t drive cars or fly airplanes based on 1982 safety standards, so why should we allow power plants to dump poisons into our waters under such outdated standards? Today’s rule finally ends the decades-old industry practice of using massive amounts of water to move toxic waste out of power plants and into unlined impoundments, which ultimately goes into our rivers, lakes and streams. This rule is a big step forward, and we stand prepared to help defend against any industry attempts to weaken it."

Read about the EPA rule here.