The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last year to reconsider a rule directing power plants to reduce toxic pollutants in their wastewater is affecting what Maryland plans to require of three coal-burning facilities in the state. Activists say it’s an example of how the changing federal attitudes toward environmental regulation trickle down to the Chesapeake Bay region.
Five-year pollution discharge permits are up for renewal for these plants: Morgantown on the lower Potomac River in Charles County; Chalk Point on the Patuxent River and Dickerson on the Potomac, north of Washington, DC. All are owned by NRG Energy, Inc., based in Princeton, NJ, though the company is in the process of transferring ownership.
With the future of the EPA rule uncertain, regulators with the Maryland Department of the Environment have tentatively decided to give the facilities at least two years and potentially up to five years before they’d have to curtail discharges of toxic metals like arsenic, mercury and selenium, as well as other pollutants, into the state’s rivers.[Continue Reading]