EPA to Halt Critical Clean Water Protections, Putting Communities and Drinking Water Sources at Risk

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Washington, DC – Administrator Scott Pruitt of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accepted requests from industry to halt safeguards to protect communities from harmful coal-fired power plant water pollution. EPA will now reconsider national pollution standards finalized by the Obama administration in 2015 that required coal plants, for the first time, to limit the amount of arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, nutrients and other harmful contaminants they discharge into our nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and bays – over 1.4 billion pounds of pollutants annually. These standards had not been updated in over thirty years, leading to the contamination of more than 23,000 miles of rivers and streams across the country, including water bodies used as drinking water sources. Clean Water Action Water Programs Director Jennifer Peters released the following statement.

"Coal-fired power plants are the worst toxic water polluters in the country and Scott Pruitt's latest reckless action shows us once again that the Trump administration cares more about maximizing profits for the fossil fuel industry than it does about protecting public health. For decades these plants had a free pass to dump unlimited arsenic, lead, mercury and other harmful chemicals directly into rivers, lakes and bays. In 2015 Obama’s EPA finally revoked this industry’s free pass to pollute our water and Administrator Pruitt’s decision to reverse course is a direct assault on these commonsense protections.”

“Pollutants discharged by power plants are extremely harmful and can cause severe health problems, including cancer and lowered IQ among children. Over one-third of these plants discharge pollutants within 5 miles of a public drinking water intake and many of these pollutants can also persist in the aquatic environment for years, causing deformities and reproductive harm in fish and wildlife. Affordable technology exists today that can eliminate nearly all of this pollution, and President Trump and the EPA should require power plants to use it, instead of reversing long-overdue progress to rein in the top toxic water polluter in the country.”


Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration and Congress.


Michael Kelly