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As OUC winds down coal, clean energy advocates call on EPA for stronger regulations

The cooling towers at the Stanton Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant, are seen behind a home in Orlando. Photo courtesy NPR
The cooling towers at the Stanton Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant, are seen behind a home in Orlando. Photo courtesy NPR

Local elected leaders and environmental advocates are calling on the Biden administration to strengthen regulations on fossil fuel-based power plants like the Stanton Energy Center. 

They say the regulations on the toxic legacy of coal ash do not go far enough. 

Coal ash is the waste that remains after coal is burned for electricity. The Environmental Protection Agency in January announced new steps for addressing the toxic waste.

Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, says the EPA should do more to prevent air and water pollution that is associated with cancer and other ailments.   

“Because even if you’re meeting standards, if there are people struggling with air quality issues, or if there are people experiencing unsanitary water issues, then that’s on us as government officials to change the standards.” 

The Orlando Utilities Commission plans to wind down coal-based power production at Stanton by 2027. OUC says the coal ash is safe for the neighborhoods surrounding the power plant.  

Susannah Randolph of the Sierra Club says the regulations are not enough. 

“The EPA can help ensure that while we wait for OUC to cease the pollution altogether, our community can rely on protection from these important federal rules.” 

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.