Trump’s EPA to Roll Back Coal Ash Regulations

Written by SK Ashby

According to sources at the Evironmnetal Protection Agency (EPA) who spoke to the New York Times, the Trump regime is planning roll back yet another Obama-era regulation that protected water supplies from pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Obama-era regulations that imposed stricter requirements for storing toxic ash from coal plants and reduced the amount that is considered acceptable in water supplies will either be relaxed or completely eliminated under the EPA's new plan.

The E.P.A. will relax some of those requirements and exempt a significant number of power plants from any of the requirements, according to the two people familiar with the Trump administration plan, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the new rules.

The move is part of a series of deregulatory efforts by the Trump administration aimed at extending the lives of old, coal-fired power plants that have been shutting down in the face of competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy generators. Coal ash, the residue produced from burning coal, was dumped for years in holding areas near power plants, largely without regulation, but it came to the public’s attention after spills in North Carolina and Tennessee sent mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other heavy metals from the ash into water supplies.

“We support reasonable regulations for coal ash and non-coal-ash byproducts that protect health and the environment,” said Michelle Bloodworth, president and chief executive of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group. “At the same time, it is important that regulations not cause unnecessary retirements or idling of coal-fired power plants because they are necessary to ensure that consumers have a reliable, resilient, and affordable electricity supply.”

Nothing that Trump's EPA does surprise me, because I will say there's something especially corrupt about the regime's repeated handouts to the coal industry and this statement from the "Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity" puts the lie to it.

No coal-fired power plants are retiring or idling just because they had to take extra steps to store the toxic byproducts of operation. That's not a thing that is happening. Coal plants are closing because the alternatives have the extra benefit of being cleaner while also being cheaper.

I say this entire enterprise of rolling back regulations on coal is especially corrupt because it's not going to save any coal plants from retirement, it's not going to save anyone's job, and it's not going to save the industry.

All this will do is make the coal-fired electricity industry slightly more profitable for its owners, not their employees or customers, before the last coal plant finally closes.

Trump's EPA has rolled back numerous regulations at the request of the coal industry and it did not prevent the nation's largest private coal company, Murray Energy, from declaring bankruptcy last week. Murray Energy is planning to reduce or eliminate employee pensions during their restructuring and cutting environmental regulations won't save a single one of them. It's not even a factor. Lawyers for Murray Energy aren't going to claim that Murray can't pay for employee pensions because of regulations. You actually have to tell the truth in court.