New Report on Coal Plant’s Toxic Wastewater

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : July 30, 2013

Contact:

Alison Flowers, Sierra Club, alison.flowers@sierraclub.org, 303-246-6297

Jessica Tritsch, Sierra Club, jessica.tritsch@sierraclub.org, 612-259-2449

 

New Report Shows At Least Four Coal-fired Power Plants in Minnesota Discharge Toxic Wastewater, Highlighting Critical Need for Strong Federal Standards

Duluth, MN — Today, a coalition of environmental and clean water groups, including the Sierra Club, held events statewide demonstrating the importance of strong U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that limit toxic water pollution from coal plants for Minnesota. The events coincide with a newly released national report, “Closing the Floodgates: How the Coal Industry Is Poisoning Our Water and How We Can Stop It” which reviewed water permits for 386 coal plants across the country and sought to identify whether states have upheld the Clean Water Act by effectively protecting families from toxic water pollution.

The analysis found:

●   Of the 274 coal plants that discharge coal ash and scrubber wastewater into waterways nationwide, at least four were in Minnesota. Only two in Minnesota have any toxic metal permit limits, and that is for mercury alone despite the slurry of toxic metals like arsenic, boron, cadmium, and selenium they are allowed to dump into public waters.

●   None of Minnesota’s active coal plants have requirements to monitor or report discharges of toxic metals to federal authorities. 

●   Impaired waterways like Blackwater Lake are being polluted by Minnesota Power’s Clay Boswell Plant, that have no permit limiting the amount of toxic metals it dumps.

“In Minnesota, we pride ourselves on clean water, the Mississippi River, Lake Superior and our 10,000 lakes. This report highlights how little disclosure there is on what poisons coal plants are dumping into our water.” said Jessica Tritsch, organizer for the Sierra Club’s Minnesota Beyond Coal Campaign. “Environmental Protection Agency limits on these toxics in our water will prevent our community from getting sick, ensure our water is safe to drink and our fish safe to eat, and save lives.”

Existing guidelines written to limit toxics discharged from coal plants do not cover many of the worst pollutants, and have not been updated in more than 30 years. In April 2013 the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first ever national standards for toxics dumped into waterways from coal plants.

The Sierra Club’s Minnesota Beyond Coal campaign is organizing to support the strongest options for these “effluent limitation guidelines” that will limit the amount of toxic chemicals that are dumped into our waterways.  These standards will also require all coal plants to monitor and report the amount of toxics dumped into our water, giving us detailed information for the first time about the types and amounts of dangerous chemicals in our water.

“Limiting the amount of toxics in our water through commonsense standards will save lives, protect our health, and ensure our water is safe to drink and our fish safe to eat,” said Alexis Boxer, organizer for the Sierra Club’s Minnesota Beyond Coal Campaign.

In Duluth, coalition members spoke out in support of tightened water pollution standards at Lafayette Park Beach.

“Here is Duluth, with Lake Superior on our doorstep,” said Julie O’Leary, Duluth Natural Resources Committee Chair for the League of Women Voters. “We understand the critical importance of clean water to our health and our economy. We must make every effort to keep toxic pollutants like mercury and lead out of our lakes, rivers and streams because once there, these chemicals don’t ever go away.”

 
Meanwhile, the new report’s nationwide findings revealed:

 ●   Of the 274 coal plants that discharge coal ash and scrubber wastewater into waterways, nearly 70 percent (188) have no limits on the amounts of toxic metals like arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury, and selenium they are allowed to dump into public waters.

●   Of these 274 coal plants, more than one-third (103) have no requirements to monitor or report discharges of toxic metals like arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury, and selenium to federal authorities.

●   A total of 71 coal plants discharge toxic water pollution into waterways that have already been declared as impaired. Of these plants that are dumping toxic metals into impaired waterways, nearly three out of four coal plants (53) had no permit that limited the amount of toxic metals it could dump.

●   More than half of the 274 coal plants plants surveyed (144) are operating with an expired Clean Water Act permit. 53 of these power plants are operating with permits that expired five or more years ago.

 The new report also reviewed red-line copies of the EPA’s proposed coal plant water pollution standards or “effluent limitation guidelines” obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, finding that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) caved to coal industry pressure and took the highly unusual and improper step of writing new weak options into the draft guidelines prepared by the EPA’s expert staff.

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Wolf Season Quota Announced; Hunt Poses Unacceptable Risk to Population

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
July 30, 2013                          

Contact:         
Lois Norrgard, Wildlands Chair  612-998-6484
Margaret Levin, State Director 612-259-2446

Wolf Season Quota Announced; Hunt Poses Unacceptable Risk to Population

Minneapolis, MN – On July 29, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced an annual quota of 220 wolves for the 2013 sport hunt.

“In light of the population numbers released earlier this month, which show a marked decline of 25% in wolf numbers, continuing the sport hunt is too great a risk.  We may be approaching a population threshold which could undo years of efforts to recover Minnesota’s wolves,” said Lois Norrgard, Wildlands Chair for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.

“We stand by our commitment to the Wolf Management Roundtable and the Minnesota Wolf Management Plan, and oppose the continued public hunt prior to the five-year monitoring period that was agreed to,” said Margaret Levin, State Director. “We oppose completely the public trapping of wolves,” said Levin.

In 2001, Minnesota completed work on a wolf management plan which stated that no general public taking of wolves is authorized by this plan within the first five years of implementation. This language was a compromise reached after significant input from a broad array of stakeholders, including members of the Sierra Club. The five-year period would allow the state to conduct scientific population assessments and develop responsible, data-driven plans for the future of our wolf that will be critical to the long term survival of this iconic Minnesota species.

The DNR’s own data concluded that there had been no significant change in wolf distribution or abundance in the decade between 1998 and 2008. The population did not appear to be increasing and seemed to have found a balance, until the commencement of a trophy hunting and trapping season in 2012.

The population survey done by the DNR this year shows a 25% decline in wolf numbers, at least partially the result of last year’s sport hunt quota of 400 wolves. Due to the way data is collected, more than 400 were actually killed in the hunt. In addition, between 250 and 500 wolves are estimated to be illegally killed each year in Minnesota, and there are an estimated 100 to 200 livestock predator control kills each year. These numbers exclude mortality due to natural causes.

“It is possible that we have actually lost between 900 and 1000 wolves due specifically to human-caused mortality in one year,” said Norrgard. “This is an unacceptable risk to a viable wolf population in Minnesota. With so much at stake, we need to approach with caution. Research on population effects of existing yearly mortality, coupled with new threats from disease, habitat destruction, and climate change, should be part of the responsible monitoring period that the citizens of Minnesota urged our DNR to commence.”

Wolves are an iconic species for many Minnesotans.  After nearly being wiped away, wolves have made important steps toward recovery in Minnesota – but appear once again at risk.

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“Make A Splash” Water Celebration to Highlight Critical Need for Strong Federal Water Pollution Standards for Coal-Fired Power Plants

***ADVISORY FOR July 30, 2013***

Contact:

Alison Flowers, Sierra Club, alison.flowers@gmail.com, 303-246-6297

Alexis Boxer,Sierra Student Coalition, alexis.boxer@sierraclub.org, 203-885-3629

 

 “Make A Splash” Water Celebration to Highlight Critical Need for Strong Federal Water Pollution Standards for Coal-Fired Power Plants

 New Report Shows At Least Four Coal-fired Power Plants in Minnesota 

Discharge Toxic Wastewater

 

On July 30, the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Sierra Student Coalition and Clean Water Action, will hold “Make A Splash,” a clean water fun fair highlighting the critical need for strong federal standards limiting toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants. “Make a Splash” will bring young people and families together from across the Twin Cities to participate in fun, educational events and activities and hear from speakers about the need for clean water protections.

The event coincides with a new national report released by a coalition of environmental and clean water groups, including the Sierra Club. The report reviewed nearly 400 coal plant water permits across the country and its findings highlight the need for strong national coal plant water pollution standards.

Existing guidelines written to limit toxics discharged from coal plants do not cover many of the worst pollutants such as some of those discharged in the Mississippi River, and have not been updated in more than 30 years. In April 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first ever national standards for toxics dumped into waterways from coal plants.  The Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s  Beyond Coal to Clean Energy campaign is organizing to support the strongest options for “effluent limitation guidelines.”

**ATTENTION TV EDITORS** GREAT VISUALS: Children and family friendly water games, ‘toxic’ lemonade stand

WHAT:  

  • Make A Splash, youth-led event highlighting the critical need for strong Environmental Protection Agency standards limiting toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants

  • ‘Toxic’ lemonade stand and water games for all ages

  • Local speakers including Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s office and Representative Keith Ellison’s office

WHO: Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Sierra Student Coalition, Clean Water Action and Twin Cities families

WHEN: July 30th, 2013, 4:30-9:00 pm  –  Press: Please arrive at 5pm-7pm

WHERE: Boom Island Park, 724 Sibley St NE  Minneapolis, MN 56413

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