The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Trump is proposing to weaken water pollution standards for the power plant industry (known as the Steam Electric Effluent Limitations and Guidelines (ELG) rule). In 2015 EPA issued the first ever national pollution standards to limit the amount of arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium and other harmful chemicals that power plants can dump into our water. These standards had not been updated since 1982 and led to the contamination of 23,000 miles of rivers and streams across the country, including drinking water sources. The 2015 technology-based standards required power plants to achieve zero discharge of fly ash and bottom ash wastewater and set strict limits on discharges of arsenic, mercury, selenium, and nitrogen in scrubber sludge wastewater.
Instead of weakening these pollution standards, EPA should uphold the zero discharge standards for bottom ash wastewater and act to strengthen the standards for scrubber sludge wastewater to include limits on critical pollutants like bromide and boron that the 2015 did not address.
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