- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering rewriting Obama-era limits on toxic heavy metals discharged from coal-fired power plants into lakes and rivers, Administrator Scott Pruitt told a court in an Aug. 11 letter.
- In April, EPA had indicated it would review the Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines the agency issued in 2015, which aimed to reduce toxic discharge by 1.4 billion pounds annually.
- Pruitt informed the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans that the agency would conduct a rulemaking and possibly rewrite the rule, as part of an ongoing legal challenge to the rule, PBS reported.
President Trump's EPA has again signaled to the courts it is considering rewriting environmental rules that are being challenged. Pruitt's letter to the court, according to PBS, could be a precursor to asking the judge to suspend the case.
Pruitt, responding to pleas from the Utility Water Act Group and the U.S. Small Business Administration, wrote "after carefully considering your petitions, I have decided that it is appropriate and in the public interest to conduct a rulemaking to potentially revise (the regulations)."
When EPA issued the rules two years ago, the agency estimated about 12% of almost 1,100 steam electric power plants in the United States would need to be modernized to comply. The rules aimed to reduce toxic discharge by 1.4 billion pounds annually.
The agency estimated the rule would save Americans $463 million a year through the health benefits of reducing chemical pollutants.
Trump has vowed to roll back regulations and limits on energy production. Since taking office, the president has launched a series of reviews on environmental rules, including smog and mercury restrictions and the Waters of the United States rule. Where those rules are under consideration by the courts, the administration has asked judges to delay rulings and hearings while the regulations are reviewed.
In addition, earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed to hold Clean Power Plan litigation in abeyance for an additional 60 days. The court granted an initial delay in the litigation in April, after the White House said it was reviewing the rule and considering how to replace it.