An environmental group sued the Trump administration for delaying regulations on coal power plant pollution just ahead of the president's State of the Union address Tuesday during which Trump plans to play up the success of his deregulation push.
"To the dinosaurs running Trump's EPA, subsidizing dirty coal is more important than clean water," said Hannah Connor, senior attorney with the group Center for Biological Diversity. "Delaying these common-sense measures to reduce water pollution will lead to more birth defects and cancers and lower IQs." The group has filed numerous suits against the Trump administration, at a rate of about three per month, and it was the first group to sue Trump over his proposed border wall for violations of the endangered species protections.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal district court in Arizona was in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's "unlawful delay" of the 2015 Clean Water Act effluent-limitation rule, which the group says will allow coal plants to continue discharging toxic pollutants such as arsenic, mercury, and lead known into rivers and streams.
The group said coal power plants represent the nation's largest source of toxic water pollution, "generating more toxic wastewater than the next two largest-polluting industries combined — petroleum refining and paper mills."
Trump during his speech will tout his administration's success in implementing its "energy dominance" agenda.
"We have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on clean coal," Trump will say during his first State of the Union address, according to excerpts released by the White House. "We are now an exporter of energy to the world."
Coincidentally, the EPA issued a report Tuesday morning that said coal and oil power plants, in addition to paper mills, led the nation in reductions of toxic pollutants in 2016.
EPA's Toxic Release Inventory showed that 87 percent of the nearly 28 billion pounds of chemical waste was not released into the environment because of recycling, energy recovery, and treatment.
The biggest success story came from coal- and oil-powered electric utilities and paper manufacturing facilities, according to the report.
The facilities "reported the greatest reductions, but nearly every sector reduced its air releases," the EPA said. "Since 2006, air releases of TRI-listed chemicals fell 58 percent at industrial facilities submitting data to the program.
The data was compiled when the Obama administration was still in power and implementation of pollution controls on coal and oil power plants was a top priority.