Sierra Club Response to EPA’s Release of Selenium Water Quality Criterion

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggested a new voluntary criterion water quality standard for selenium, a harmful pollutant produced by coal mines in Appalachia as well as other industrial sources including coal-fired power plants, phosphate mines, and agricultural run-off. Selenium in streams easily enters the food chain, and can increase in concentration by several orders of magnitude by the time it reaches fish and wildlife. In response, Peter Morgan, a staff attorney with the Sierra Club, released the following statement: “In publishing its final national criterion for selenium, the EPA has replaced its existing straightforward and easily enforceable national water quality standard with something that is convoluted and extremely difficult to implement. We are still reviewing EPA's 800+ page criterion, but it is already abundantly clear that EPA has effectively abdicated its responsibility to protect the nation's waterways and the communities that rely on them from harmful selenium pollution. We are disappointed that instead of creating a strong, mandatory standard, EPA has instead placed responsibility in the hands of state regulators who have already established that they will not miss an opportunity to aid their polluter friends in the mining industry at the expense of hard-working mining families and their communities.”

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