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Coal-fired power plants to close after new wastewater rule

PITTSBURGH — Climate change isn’t what’s driving some U.S. coal-fired power plants to shut down — instead it’s the expense of stricter pollution controls on their wastewater.

Dozens of power plants nationwide plan to shut down later this decade to comply with stricter federal wastewater guidelines. The power plant industry has been moving away from coal in favor of cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas and renewables like wind and solar.

The new wastewater rule requires coal-fired power plants to clean ash and toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and selenium from plant wastewater before it is dumped into streams and rivers.