Power Plant Industry’s Free Pass to Pollute Our Water: Revoked!

Waste water being discharged into a river. Photo credit: EvgeniiAnd / Shutterstock

UPDATE: President Trump's EPA proposed weakening these protections in 2017. Clean Water Action is currently engaged in a campaign to stop this short-fighted rollback.

Clean Water Action’s campaign to end toxic water pollution from coal-burning power plants achieved an incredible victory on September 30, 2015 when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the first-ever national pollution limits to control the amount of harmful pollutants steam electric power plants can dump  into our nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and bays.

These long overdue national standards will eliminate 1.4 billion pounds of toxic metals, nutrients and other pollutants from being dumped into U.S. surface waters every year and reduce water withdrawal by 57 billion gallons. They will also better protect our nation’s drinking water sources from harmful pollution.

The power plant industry is already fighting these new pollution limits, and Clean Water Action is working hard with our allies to defend them.  We are also working to ensure that state permit writers robustly enforce these new pollution standards on the ground, especially in the most vulnerable communities.

  • Read our statement here.
  • Read Jennifer Peters’s blog post here.
  • Read Lynn Thorp's blog post here.

Powerplants not only foul our air, but they are one of the biggest water polluters

For decades the power plant industry enjoyed a free pass to dump unlimited amounts of dangerous chemicals directly into our surface water, including sources of water used for drinking.

  • Wastewater from coal-burning power plants is especially nasty– it contains high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic pollutants.
  • These pollutants are known to cause cancer, lower children’s IQ and cause other health problems.
  • Many of these pollutants, once in the environment, remain there for years and can concentrate up food chains, making it dangerous for people that eat fish from rivers or lakes that are contaminated with these pollutants. Because of their close proximity to coal plant wastewater discharges and relatively high rates of fish consumption, some minority and low-income communities are especially vulnerable to being exposed to these dangerous pollutants.
  • Over 23,000 miles of streams and rivers are already contaminated with power plant wastewater.
  • Until 2015, there were no federal regulations to protect our water from these toxic chemicals.

For more information, read our reports: