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Lisa Evans's blog

The devastating coal ash spill at Kingston, TN in December 2008.

Last night on 60 Minutes, journalist Leslie Stahl made Lynn Good, the CEO of Duke Energy, look bad during an episode about coal ash—a byproduct of coal burning that’s dumped into mostly unlined and unmonitored ponds across the country.  

As Good tried to smile and defend the decades of delay in cleaning up coal ash sites by arguing that more study is needed, the veteran newswoman blew right through her smokescreen.

“Studying is code for stalling,” said Stahl.

Sometime after midnight, the White House made it official—its review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) coal ash rule has begun. The quiet posting of the rule by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sets in motion OMB’s official regulatory review pursuant to a 1993 executive order.

The toxic coal ash turned the Dan River gray for 20 miles east of the North Carolina border.

Although the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources found Duke Energy in gross violation of the federal Clean Water Act, the state agency placed so little value on public health that they were willing to settle for a pittance—a penny per ton of toxic coal ash stored at Duke’s two illegally polluting plants. To rub ash into the wound, the agency didn’t even require Duke to stop the flow of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and other toxic metals from the millions of tons of coal ash at the plants, much less clean up the pollution.

The EPA doesn’t need yet another reason to require the safe closure of the nation’s 1,070 coal ash ponds. But the massive leak of 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash from Duke Energy’s Dan River Power Station this week should set off a siren to wake our sleeping regulators.

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