Environmental groups praised the Environmental Protection Agency for proposing new coal-plant water pollution standards to limit the amounts and types of toxic metals and other pollutants released into America's waterways.

EPA's proposed effluent limitation guidelines for steam-electric powerplants, released on April 19 to comply with a consent-decree deadline, primarily target coal-fired powerplants that use wet-ash handling and scrubbers, but they also will affect some nuclear, oil and natural-gas plants.

The Sierra Club says the standards are necessary for reducing water pollution from coal plants and will save lives. But Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, says the proposal fails to take into account the environmental benefits of rules already in place.