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EPA plans to relax coal power plant waste rules

Industry in dramatic red sunset light. Chimneys and cooling tower of a coal fired power station.

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to relax rules regulating how power plants store waste from coal power plants and the release of water containing toxic chemicals into nearby waterways, according to a source familiar with the plans.

The Washington Post was first to report on the planned announcement, saying it would happen on Monday.

The proposals scale back two Obama administration rules from 2015 that affect the disposal of fine powder and sludge, otherwise known as coal ash.

Coal ash can contain mercury, arsenic and other metals that could negatively affect both human health and the environment at large.

The new rules would allow extensions that could keep unlined coal ash waste ponds open for up to eight additional years and allow plants to discharge wastewater that captures the waste through a membrane system, though many plants would be exempt.

The rule relaxation comes as companies in the coal industry claimed in court that the current rules were unaffordable and as the Trump administration has taken a “pro coal” stance under the President.

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