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Metal-laden discharges from coal plants poorly regulated

A new report by the environmental group Sierra Club says at least three coal-fired power plants in Wyoming discharge pollution containing metals into streams. According to the report, some plants do not monitor how much waste they discharge or what it contains.

The Environmental Protection Agency says coal plants nationwide contribute more than half of the toxic pollutants discharged to water bodies by regulated industry, but discharge standards have not been updated since 1982. 

Staff attorney for the Sierra Club, Craig Segall, says the Clean Water Act is designed to let states take the lead in protecting streams.

“EPA was supposed to be updating the base-line federal standard really regularly to keep pace with changing technology. And it just didn’t do that for more than 30 years. In the absence of that, what the law says is supposed to happen was that state regulators were supposed to step up and set case by case limits for all the plants in their jurisdiction.  That just didn’t happen,” says Segall.    

The report comes on the heels of an EPA notice of proposed rulemaking to revise discharge limitations.

Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications.
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