Praise for EPA’s New Pollution Control Rules for Coal-Fired Power Plants

Environmental Integrity Project Lauds Strong Regulations to Restrict Pollution from Coal Power Plants and Coal Ash Dumps

Washington, D.C. – The Biden Administration this morning issued new regulations for coal-fired power plants aimed at controlling polluted wastewater, groundwater contamination from coal ash dumps, greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollution, drawing praise from the Environmental Integrity Project.

“Today the U.S. EPA took strong measures to reduce pollution from coal-burning power plants and it deserves praise for taking action to protect public health, our waterways, and our climate,” said Abel Russ, Senior Attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). “EPA’s rules include new water pollution limits and waste disposal rules that EIP and its coalition partners have been pushing for over a decade. These changes will dramatically reduce the discharge of cancer-causing and neurotoxic pollutants to our surface water and groundwater.”

Click here for EPA’s fact sheet on its new water pollution control rules; here for the agency’s regulations to control ground water contamination from old and leaky coal ash ponds; here for information on EPA’s greenhouse gas rules; and here for the new mercury and toxic air pollution control regulations.

EIP and partner organizations litigated and advocated for years to strengthen the water pollution rules, called “effluent limitation guidelines,” and to eliminate a loophole in the cleanup regulations for coal ash dumps.

Abel Russ said: “The water pollution limits, formally known as Steam Electric Effluent Limitations Guidelines, will impose a zero-discharge standard on three of the largest and most toxic waste streams from coal plants through the use of modern, zero-discharge pollution controls. When fully implemented, the rule will keep over 660 million pounds of pollution out of our waterways each year. “

The Environmental Integrity Project also pushed for the strengthening of the EPA’s Mercury Air Toxic Standards. The agency says the new rule will result in reductions, by the year 2028, of at least 1,000 pounds of mercury air pollution from coal fired power plants, 770 tons of fine particulate matter, 280 tons of nitrogen oxides and 65,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

“EPA’s new rules on mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants are an important step forward in cutting down on dangerous air pollution,” said Patton Dycus, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project.    “The new regulations remove a loophole that had been allowing power plants to release excessive amounts of air pollution during startups, without penalty. The rules also tighten emissions standards and improve monitoring requirements, among other enhancements.”

EPA’s new coal ash waste management rule, also released today, earned praise for taking action to reduce groundwater contamination and protect drinking water supplies from old and neglected coal ash dumps that leak arsenic, mercury and other toxic metals.

“The waste disposal rule, which updates EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals rule, or “CCR Rule,” will close a huge loophole in the existing rule,” Abel Russ of EIP said.  “As originally written in 2015, the rule exempted most ash dumps that closed before 2015. There are several hundred of these ash dumps across the country. Monitoring data show that over 90 percent of coal plants have contaminated groundwater, and at most plants a lot of that contamination is coming from older, unregulated ash dumps. Cleanup plans that ignore these older dumps cannot restore groundwater quality. We are excited that the updated rule will finally require comprehensive, site-wide cleanup.”

The new carbon dioxide standards for coal-fired power plants will, EPA estimates, reduce 1.38 billion metric tons of carbon pollution through 2047, which is about as much as the emissions from 328 million gasoline cars, or to nearly an entire year of emissions from the entire U.S. electric power sector.

For a link to EPA’s press release on all four new regulations, click here.

Here is a link to a copy of the agency’s new water pollution rules (steam electric effluent limiation guidelines (ELG).

Here is a link to EPA’s new regulations for legacy coal ash waste sites and coal ash dumps.

The Environmental Integrity Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting public health and our natural resources by holding polluters and government agencies accountable under the law, advocating for tough but fair environmental standards, and empowering communities fighting for clean air and clean water.

Media contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project (443) 510-2574 or