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Tr-Ash Talk: Is Poisoned Water Necessary for Jobs?

So, you’d think we’d all be in agreement here: clean water is a boon for everyone. That means, keep coal ash (full of mercury, arsenic, hexavalent chromium and other nasty stuff) out of our drinking water, right? Sadly, that doesn’t hold true for everyone. Some members of the House of Representatives think that funding 2.9 million jobs via the transportation bill is a great opportunity to shove in a measure that will block the EPA from ever regulating coal ash on a federal level.

Scratch your heads. It doesn’t make sense to us, either.

Which is why Earthjustice is one of 140 groups from 14 states that sent a letter to Senate conferees, calling on them to pass a transportation bill free of public health loopholes. This means getting rid of the coal ash rider, as well as amendments that would automatically permit the Keystone XL pipeline (a controversial project that is harmful for the climate) and another that would dismantle public participation-oriented environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Here is what a part of the letter says:

We urge you to move to produce a conference report that increases American jobs and improves transportation safety, without jeopardizing the health of our communities. The House bill irresponsibly burdens a bipartisan Senate transportation bill with three dangerous, controversial and unrelated provisions that attack our health and environment.

The current extension expires June 30, leaving only a few weeks before this debacle needs to be resolved. The public has reasons to be concerned. With industry and their congressional cronies perpetuating the dangerous myth that “coal ash is like dirt,” they are deliberately trying to conceal its dangers. Allowing this toxic and growing waste to continue to go unchecked will only exacerbate the risk it poses to our communities and drinking water.

Please help us continue to send congressional members the message that Americans want the transportation bill to be free of health-destructive measures. A functional transportation bill shouldn’t be at the expense of public health.