Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

New Sierra Club Report Claims Coal Industry Is “Poisoning Our Water”

Oklahoma Gas and Electric's Muskogee Power Plant is on the list of coal plants that discharge waste into waterways.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gas and Electric's Muskogee Power Plant is on the list of coal plants that discharge waste into waterways.

The Sierra Club, along with a coalition of environmental groups, looked through water permits for nearly 400 coal-fired power plants across the U.S., and found more than half of them allow the discharge of coal ash and wastewater from scrubbers into waterways. Six are in Oklahoma.

In a press release sent out on Tuesday, Oklahoma’s Beyond Coal Campaign says the dumping is happening with impunity.

“Of these six coal plants, most have no requirements to monitor or report discharges of toxic metals to federal authorities,” organizing representative Whitney Pearson says. “Some waterways like the Grand Neosho and Washita Rivers are already impaired but the coal plants that discharge to them have no limits in their permits regulating the amount … that are dumped in the rivers.”

The report says three Oklahoma plants have expired Clean Water Act permits, and even if they had updated permits, the guidelines limiting arsenic, mercury and other metals are more than 30 years old.

As the EPA considers new standards, the environmental groups want the strongest possible response: Guidelines that all but outright ban the toxic releases.


StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Comments

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education