Share this Post:

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Tr-Ash Talk: This is About Health, Not Jobs


    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Related Blog Entries

by Debra Mayfield:
Five Years Later and the Story of the TVA Spill Continues

It’s been five years, but hard to forget: On December 22, 2008, just after midnight, the town of Harriman, Tennessee woke to the flood of more than ...

by Lisa Evans:
Giving Thanks for the End of Catfish Stuffing

Five years ago, fish biologists scooped up a catfish full of toxic ash from the Kingston coal ash disaster. Last month, the U.S. District Court for t...

by Lisa Evans:
TVA Five Years Later—Lessons Not Learned

It’s been almost five years since the TVA Kingston coal ash disaster blanketed an idyllic riverfront community in toxic waste. I revisited the ...

Earthjustice on Twitter

View Alana Bryant's blog posts
12 October 2011, 11:46 AM
Debunking polluters' unfounded fears
Massive clean-up operations in the aftermath of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

The anticipated vote on H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, will be upon us Friday. The bill (sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (WV-R)) would prevent the EPA from establishing a strong national rule to protect American’s health and drinking water from the nation’s second largest industrial waste stream: coal ash.

There are myriad health hazards associated with coal ash disposal sites, due to the many toxic chemicals that are contained in the ash such as arsenic, hexavalent chromium, lead and mercury, just to name a few.  From high cancer risk from poisoned drinking water, to blowing toxic dust, to the risk of catastrophic collapse, too much is at stake to not properly regulate this toxic waste.

But we know now that a strong coal ash rule includes another benefit: 28,000 new American jobs every year.

Like Chicken Little, Republican co-sponsors of H.R. 2273 and the industry lobbyists who are pulling their puppet strings, cry far too often that the sky is falling. Biased and misleading industry-sponsored reports estimate incorrectly that federal regulation would sacrifice as many as 316,000 jobs.

In contrast, Frank Ackerman of Tufts University  issued a report  yesterday that breaks down how EPA regulation of coal ash would affect jobs. Ackerman finds that, rather than killing jobs, the regulation would actually create a net of 28,043 jobs. Regulating coal ash is not about jobs, but HEALTH. (And if you agree that public health must supersede unfounded industry fears, please take action here.)

Ackerman explains that in the industry’s study, more than 50,000 of the jobs are “completely unexplained.” And another 200,000 come from the exaggerated effects of a possible 1-percent increase in electricity rates.

Job creation is a necessary part of the discourse on any impending bill, but when it is done so carelessly, it sacrifices much-needed public health protections in the name of politics.

Ackerman writes that the effects on employment are not the only basis on which to judge proposed regulations, nor the most important. The stated purpose of EPA regulations is to protect public health and the environment. Specifically:

EPA and independent researchers have identified many health hazards associated with coal ash disposal sites; drinking water from wells near one type of ash disposal facility can create a one in 50 chance of getting cancer from arsenic in the water. A biologist has identified $2.3 billion of fish and wildlife losses due to releases of pollutants at 22 coal ash disposal sites. These are the types of issues that should be central to the debate on regulatory proposals.

Ackerman arrives at the conclusion that the bill would NET 28,000 jobs. He ends his piece: "This conclusion doesn’t, by itself, clinch the argument for such regulation. But it does free us of the unfounded fear of massive job loss, allowing us to evaluate the regulation on its merits.”

At this time of economic hardship, American's lose sight of the importance of clean air and water.

Excellent work highlighting the fact that health and jobs are NOT mutually exclusive. This is an important principle that is applicable to many environmental regulations.

Thank you for posting!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <p> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.