You might think that the byproduct of burning coal — which is laden with arsenic, selenium, mercury and lead — might be bad for the environment and human health. And, since a giant coal ash impoundment in Tennessee burst three years ago, causing one of the greatest environmental disasters in US history, you might think it would be a good thing to increase regulations of these toxins. This year, Green America called on the EPA to do just that.
However, the coal ash industry would disagree. They see coal ash as a vital resource that can be repurposed into concrete and other materials. The fact that coal ash impoundments can and do leak, and can lead to a significant increase in the risk of cancer (for example, it can increase the risk of cancer in children to 9 out of 1,000, which is 900 times higher than the US EPA’s target), does not factor into their calculations. Nor does the risk of another catastrophic flood, like the one in Tennessee. It comes as no surprise then that the industry is pushing for legislation to limit EPA regulation of coal ash, and leave such regulations to the states (where it resides now).
People who live near coal ash impoundments are alarmed by the industry’s attack on regulations. The industry has already been successful in the House, which passed legislation in October to keep coal ash regulation with the states. Similar legislation is now pending in the Senate: S 1751. Several Democratic Senators, including those in the states of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Montana and Alaska, may join their republican colleagues in supporting this bill. It is important to call your Senators today and tell them to reject this dangerous legislation, and urge them to let the EPA regulate toxic coal ash.