Powering Strong Communities

EPA Proposes Stronger Limits on Water Pollution From Coal-Fired Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency on March 8 proposed to strengthen wastewater discharge standards that apply to coal-fired power plants.

EPA said its proposed rule would establish more stringent discharge standards for three types of wastewater generated at coal fired power plants: flue gas desulfurization wastewater, bottom ash transport water and combustion residual leachate.

The proposed rule also addresses wastewater produced by coal fired power plants that is stored in surface impoundments, for example, ash ponds. The proposal would define these “legacy” wastewaters and seeks comment on whether to develop more stringent discharge standards for these wastewaters.

EPA is also proposing changes to specific compliance paths for certain subcategories of power plants. The agency's proposal would retain and refresh a compliance path for coal-fired power plants that commit to stop burning coal by 2028.

The agency is issuing a direct final rule and parallel proposal to allow power plants to opt into permanent cessation of coal compliance path.

Additionally, power plants that are in the process of complying with existing regulations and plan to stop burning coal by 2032 would be able to comply with the proposed rule.

EPA estimates its preferred options would cost $200 million dollars annually in social costs, equating to approximately a $0.63 increase in the cost of electricity and reduce pollutant discharges by approximately 584 million pounds per year.

Click here for additional details, including how to comment or participate in an online public hearing.