Skip to main content

Lisa Evans's blog

A coal ash spill on the Dan River in North Carolina in 2014.

It’s no surprise that Duke Energy’s legendary coal ash problems don’t stop at the North Carolina border. As you may remember, Duke pleaded guilty to nine criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act as a result of a massive coal ash spill in 2014 and mismanagement of dozens of ash ponds in North Carolina.

Scientists have found that coal ash has up to 10 times more naturally occurring radioactive materials than the parent coal it comes from.

Burning coal for energy leaves behind toxic coal ash waste, and that waste may be even more harmful than researchers suspected. In a paper published today in Environmental Science and Technology, scientists and engineers from Duke University and the University of Kentucky found coal ash has up to 10 times more radioactive material than the parent coal it comes from because burning coal concentrates its natural radioactivity.

A Duke Energy coal fired power plant

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives will vote on HR 1734, Rep. David McKinley’s (R- WV) sixth attempt at a coal ash bill that protects his largest campaign contributors. This year’s bill weakens, delays or removes critical health protections recently established by the EPA to keep communities safe from toxic coal ash. Big utilities and coal companies want the new rule gutted, and McKinley and the House majority are eager to oblige.

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.


About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.