On 8 March 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to strengthen standards on wastewater discharges from coal-fired power plants in the U.S. The EPA’s proposed rule establishes more stringent limits for three types of toxic wastewater generated at coal-fired power plants: flue gas desulfurization wastewater, bottom ash transport water, and coal combustion residual leachate. The EPA is also soliciting comments on strengthening the guidelines for the disposal of legacy wastewater stored in surface impoundments (i.e., coal ash ponds), which includes impoundments at inactive or retired power plants.
The agency’s proposal includes an optional compliance path for coal-fired power plants to retire or switch to natural gas by 2028, which would allow plants to avoid significant investments in their current wastewater treatment systems. The proposal comes at a time of significant change for the U.S. power sector.
In this Research Note:
- EPA proposal triggers potential wave of coal power plant retirements, remediation
- Legacy coal ash pond treatment opportunity rises
- Writing on the wall for coal and remediation opportunities