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July 16, 2013

Waterways Need Better Protections From Coal Plants

Philly

The Sierra Club, Delaware Riverkeepers, and the Clean Air Council won some airtime in Pennsylvania during the Independence Day holiday weekend by hosting a press conference that featured a "living mural" backdrop calling for the EPA to finalize strong standards on toxic discharges from coal plants and clean up waterways.

Sporting "Beyond Coal" shirts, speakers from the three groups held the press gathering next to a local event called "Welcome America/Taste of Philadelphia," a big community gathering featuring food, entertainment, and fireworks. Organizers and volunteers were able to collect more than 150 signatures on cards addressed to the EPA in support of stronger water-dumping rules for coal plants.

"One thing that really motivated us was learning that four out of five coal plants in the U.S. have no limits on the amount of toxics like arsenic, mercury, lead, and others that they’re allowed to dump into our water," said Sierra Club Pennsylvania Organizer Randy Francisco. The press conference ended up garnering coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer's environmental blog and the local ABC news affiliate.

Water standards for coal plant discharges haven't been updated in 30 years. Out of Pennsylvania's 28 active coal plants, only eight have permits that specifically limit the dumping of toxic metals. Such toxic pollution gets into fish and people who swim in these waterways.

"National safeguards to limit toxic water pollution are well overdue," said Sierra Club Board Member and Pennsylvanian Robin Mann, who spoke at the event. "These new standards will not only clean up our rivers and streams, but require polluters for the first time to report dumping so that communities will know what’s going into their water and be empowered to take action to clean it up."

Watch video of the event here:

Take action: Tell the EPA to keep our water clean and safe!

-- Brian Foley

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