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Sierra Club Calls For More Control On Coal Plant Emissions

The Sierra Club says coal-fired power plants are not regulated strictly enough, but energy companies say they are abiding by all federal mandates.

The Sierra Club is proposing tighter restrictions on the pollution control standards for coal-fired power plants.

A report, which was released Tuesday and uses U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, cites 16 of Indiana’s 19 plants are discharging toxic metals, including arsenic, boron, mercury and selenium, into the White, Ohio and Wabash Rivers.

Sierra Club officials say existing national standards on coal plant water pollution are 31 years old and do not set limits on many pollutants.

“Coal plants enjoy a loophole,” says Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce. “Coal plants are in fact the number one source of toxic water pollution discharged into our lakes and rivers, so if we want to clean up those toxics and those heavy metals in one fell swoop, we go to the biggest source and those are the coal-fired power plants.”

The Sierra Club’s “Indiana Beyond Coal” campaign is seeking standards that would limit the amount of chemicals dumped into waterways. The standards would also require all coal plants to monitor and report the amounts of toxins dumped.

Duke Energy is one of the companies named in the report. Officials there say they have not had time to review the report thoroughly but they question its legitimacy because the report states the Duke Energy plant in Cayuga is running on a year-old state permit.

A Duke Energy spokesperson Angeline Protogere says that plant was issued a new permit in March of this year. She says the company also tracks all of their power plants’ emissions on a daily basis to make sure they do not exceed allowable levels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to update its standards on coal-fired power plants. The department has not announced any details of that plan.

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