Air Pollution Controls On Coal Burning Power Plants Have Environmentalists Saying They Now Need Water Pollution Controls Too

By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The public comment period ends next Friday on proposed environmental regulations that could pit your light switch against your water faucet.

What comes out of the smoke stack at a coal-burning power plant is regulated so lead, mercury and arsenic, among other materials, don’t pollute the air. But those substances are often collected in waste ponds, says Abigail Dillen, of the environmental group Earthjustice.

“Instead of treating the water that’s now more contaminated with all these pollutants that otherwise would have gone out the stack, we’re letting that water flow untreated into our waterways,” she says, “so we’re getting air pollution gains but water pollution penalties.”

Dillen says the treatment would only cost the electricity user a couple cents a day, but additional regulation may prompt the owners of older generating plants to close them instead.

One sixth of the nation’s coal-burning plants have been shut during the Obama Administration.

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