While power plants must stay within strict limits on the amount of pollutants they release into the air, rules intended to safeguard streams and lakes are much less restrictive. They have not been updated at the federal level in more than 30 years.
That is far too long, given the fast pace of changing technology.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are in the process of proposing new water pollution standards for power plants. Several alternatives are being considered. Depending on which option is selected, the new limits could reduce the amount of toxins flowing into streams and lakes by as much as 2.6 billion pounds a year.
New limits on discharges into waterways appear to be long overdue. A reasonable set of standards - adequate to safeguard streams and lakes without burdening electric customers unduly - should be devised and enforced.