Coal Ash Wednesday: Trump's EPA is literally trying to kill us


Andrew Wheeler just made millions for his coal industry pals:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a rule that revises regulations for coal-fired power plants, a move that will limit the number of generation facilities that could incur costs for failing to comply with pollution limits. The action on Aug. 31 revises a rule established in 2015, when the EPA issued an order that for the first time set federal limits on the levels of toxic metals in wastewater that could be discharged from power plants.

Coal industry executives, critical of the original restrictions which they characterized as costly and burdensome, praised Monday’s changes. Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator who is a former coal industry lobbyist, described the revisions as “more affordable pollution control technologies” that would “reduce pollution and save jobs at the same time.”

Bolding mine, because we see this nonsense all the time from Republicans. They are actually increasing pollution, not reducing it, but in this truth-challenged Trump era, casual lies like this are a daily staple. Thankfully, this rule change is on SELC's radar:

Environmental groups on Monday immediately decried the EPA’s revisions. Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, in an email to POWER said, “With today’s rollback of clean water protections, the Trump EPA allows dirty coal-burning plants to dump more toxic substances into our rivers, lakes, and drinking reservoirs and exposes our communities to more cancer-causing pollution. The EPA itself has estimated that at least 30 percent of all toxic water pollution from all industries comes from these plants, and the technology to prevent and treat this pollution is widely available. The EPA is making it easier for the most polluting and worst run coal-fired plants to dump poisons into the waterways our communities depend upon.”

The EPA in 2015 when it announced the initial rule, which required the use of modern technologies to treat wastewater, estimated that improvements at coal-fired plants would have prevented 1.4 billion pounds of pollutants from entering U.S. waters annually. The EPA at that time said the 2015 rule would provide $451 million to $566 million per year in public health and environmental benefits.

The EPA on Monday said it estimates that the final 2020 rule will save coal-fired power plant operators “$127 million per year in social costs and result in between $[minus]1.7 million and $43 million in benefits.”

Thom Cmar, deputy managing attorney of the Earthjustice Coal Program, in an email to POWER said, “The Trump administration is once again jeopardizing people’s health to give coal power industry lobbyists what they want. This dangerous decision will have a big impact because dirty coal-fired power plants are by far the number one source of toxic chemicals in our water. The Trump administration’s rollback will be responsible for hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants contaminating sources of drinking water, lakes, rivers and streams every year. We will challenge this rule change in court.”

The 2020 rule says only those coal-fired power plants that discharge bottom ash transport water or FGD wastewater may now incur compliance costs. The EPA said it estimates that 75 plants may incur compliance costs under the final rule, out of a total of 914 plants that could be covered by the rule.

Again, bolding mine. This shows you the difference between an EPA that takes "all" costs into consideration, and an EPA that is mainly concerned with helping generate profits for polluters.

Elections have consequences, and we've had more than enough consequences from Trump already. It's time to fix this mess, before more people suffer.