Just a few short months after I moved to a beautiful barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. It was devastating and heartbreaking. I’ve spent my adult life working in public health, promoting health protective policies. This, however, really hit home. The BP disaster renewed my resolve to fight for clean, safe energy policies. When I participated in 'Hands Across the Sand,' depicted in the photo I am holding, I was encouraged to see people from varied backgrounds and political affiliations united by a deep desire to end our dependence on dangerous, dirty fossil fuels.
It’s the right thing to do. Florida is called the “Sunshine State” for good reason, and our coastal areas are also ripe for wind power generation. Why are we not leading the nation in renewable energy?
The evidence is there, we know that these chemicals are bad for the environment and bad for human health. It’s time to do something about it.
As a public health professional, I have serious concerns over the state of our environment. Of particular concern is coal ash, the solid waste that remains after coal is combusted or burned. Coal ash contains concentrated amounts of some of the world’s deadliest toxic metals including arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium. The health effects associated with exposure to these chemicals are grave and can affect multiple organs of the body.
Florida ranks 8th in the U.S. for coal ash generation, producing over 6.1 million tons per year. Yet, Florida law does not regulate coal ash ponds and therefore there are no safety requirements in place, leaving our environment and our citizens at risk. In fact, in 34 states, including Florida, coal ash has contaminated streams, lakes and rivers, underwater aquifers and drinking water wells, inflicting harm on fish, wildlife and humans. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and public interest organizations have identified 157 coal ash “damage cases” where “danger to human health or the environment has been proved."
The evidence is there, we know that these chemicals are bad for the environment and bad for human health. It’s time to do something about it. We have to move away from the toxins emitted from coal burning power plants and the toxic coal ash left behind. It’s time we to move toward clean, safe, renewable energy. It's the right thing to do.