I came across an article at The Hill that the EPA planned to rewrite a regulation from President Barack Obama’s administration that limited toxic waste from power plants.

But before the left loses its mind, it’s important to note that Energy Secretary Scott Pruitt didn’t promise to change anything, just review it.

On September 30, 2015, the Obama administration set “the first federal limits on toxic wastewater discharge from power plants while taking into account technological improvements in the industry.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote on that day:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday issued the first federal rules aimed at reducing toxic water discharges into lakes, rivers and streams from coal-fired power plants and coal ash dumps.

The regulation will eliminate most releases of ash-contaminated wastewater, require treatment of sludge and cut discharges of toxic heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic, lead and selenium by 1.4 billion pounds a year, according to the EPA, producing health benefits totaling $463 million annually.

Some organizations and groups have challenged this rule in court. From The Associated Press:

Acting at the behest of electric utilities who opposed the stricter standards, Pruitt first moved in April to delay implementation of the new guidelines. The wastewater flushed from the coal-fired plants into rivers and lakes typically contains traces of such highly toxic heavy metals as lead, arsenic, mercury and selenium.

“After carefully considering your petitions, I have decided that it is appropriate and in the public interest to conduct a rulemaking to potentially revise (the regulations),” Pruitt wrote in the letter addressed to the pro-industry Utility Water Act Group and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Potentially revise. In other words, it is unknown if Pruitt will change the rule or even scrap it completely. As Pruitt works to review the rule, the EPA asked the “court to freeze the legal fight.”

The department estimated that the Obama rule could become costly, but possibly beneficial to consumers:

The EPA estimates the rule would reduce toxic metals and other discharged pollutants by 1.4 billion pounds. If implemented, the rule would cost about $480 million per year and its potential benefits are worth $451 million to $566 million, the agency says.


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