EPA will reconsider Obama-era safeguards on coal waste

September 14, 2017

By Brady Dennis and Juliet Eileperin –

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to reconsider parts of an Obama-era effort to regulate potentially toxic waste known as coal ash, again siding with energy-industry efforts to slow or reverse standards put in place in recent years.

Federal regulators have struggled for several decades with how to address coal ash, the substance that remains when coal is burned in power plants to generate electricity. A toxic mix of mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other heavy metals, coal ash can pollute waterways, poison wildlife and cause respiratory illness among those living near the massive storage pits plant operators use to contain it.

A rule finalized in 2015 by the Obama administration imposed new standards on coal ash disposal sites by ramping up inspection and monitoring levels and requiring measures such as liners in new waste pits to prevent leaking that could threaten adjacent drinking water supplies.

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