The Stream, November 6, 2019: U.S. EPA Set to Weaken Regulations on Water Pollution from Coal Ash

The Global Rundown

The U.S. Trump administration moves to weaken regulations on water pollution caused by coal plant waste. An early warning method indicates an 80 percent chance that an El Niño weather pattern will occur in 2020. Florida unveils a new online dashboard that allows residents to track water quality in the state’s lakes and rivers. Brazil’s mining regulator says mining company Vale SA likely cost lives by failing to disclose issues with a dam that collapsed in January. The latest forecast for the U.S. Great Lakes shows that Lakes Michigan and Huron are likely to set record-high levels near the end of winter. 

“The rule announced today puts millions of people’s drinking water in jeopardy. When tragedy strikes from a flood, hurricane or a breach from an unlined coal ash pit or pond, everyday citizens are left with contaminated water.” –Mustafa Santiago Ali, director of the EPA’s office of environmental justice under the Obama administration, in reference to a new EPA proposal to relax laws pertaining to water pollution from coal plants. The Obama-era rules require coal plants to frequently monitor their coal ash and keep up-to-date technology to avoid arsenic, lead, selenium, and other coal ash components from seeping into water supplies. The New York Times

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By The Numbers

80 percent Chance of an El Niño weather pattern emerging in 2020, based on a new early warning model. The method analyzes changing air temperatures across the Pacific to determine the likelihood of the weather pattern, which is associated with severe droughts and intense rainfall in countries around the Pacific. Reuters  

Science, Studies, and Reports

On Tuesday, Brazil’s mining regulator criticized mining company Vale SA for failing to report several problems with the Brumadinho dam, which collapsed in January and killed over 250 people. The regulator claims that Vale’s failure to disclose the problems kept the agency from taking actions that could have prevented the disaster. Reuters

On the Radar

This week, Florida introduced a new online dashboard that allows residents to track water quality in major lakes and rivers across the state. The website includes details on algae blooms, the red tide, and information on environmental projects. U.S. News & World Report

U.S. Great Lakes Superior, Erie, and Ontario all reached record-high water levels in 2019, and the latest forecast indicates that Lakes Michigan and Huron will likely follow suit in February or March 2020. Analysts say the record highs are likely to occur due to an above-average season starting point and the wetter-than-average winter that is predicted across the Great Lakes basin. MLive

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