EPA Administrator Issues Rule Deregulating Harmful Pollutant, A Move That His Former Client Xcel Energy Had Been Pushing For

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the EPA finalized a rule that would extend the closure initiation deadlines of unlined coal ash ponds. The rule comes following requests from the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG), an industry coalition that includes Xcel Energy, a former client of EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s. Coal ash is a dangerous pollutant that contains arsenic, boron, lead and mercury, which are known carcinogens and damage organs.

In response, Accountable.US spokesman Chris Saeger issued the following statement: 

“Administrator Wheeler is part of a corrupt pattern in the Trump administration, putting the interests of his allies above the public he is supposed to serve. This administration is abusing its power to hand out favors to corporate lobbyists, selling out Americans’ health and the environment in the process.”  

Background on Xcel Energy and Coal Ash Rules Rollback 

In 2019, the EPA– under Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s leadership– proposed a rule that would extend the closure initiation deadlines of unlined coal ash ponds, allowing some plants five more years before they would need to close unlined coal ash ponds. 

The Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) applauded the proposed changes. Relaxing coal ash rules has been a big priority for USWAG– the trade group petitioned then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to roll back coal ash storage regulations back in 2017. 

Xcel Energy is a member of USWAG, and has also supported EPA’s proposed coal ash rule. Andrew Wheeler lobbied for Xcel Energy from 2013- 2016, and has promised to recuse himself from matters related to Xcel Energy until August 28, 2020. 

Read the full report here.

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