In a stunning victory for victims of the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash disaster, a federal judge in Knoxville, Tennessee ruled that TVA is responsible for damages caused by the massive spill.
Summer on Capitol Hill has been a hot one—especially for coal ash. The 11th hour removal of a devastating coal ash provision tacked onto the federal transportation bill gave hope to thousands of communities that Congress would not turn its on public health and the environment. When the smoke cleared and President Obama signed a transportation bill
Although the EPA’s proposed coal ash rule was published two years ago, a final rule is nowhere in sight. Two years is more than enough time for the EPA to decide on a set of reasonable, health-protective standards for the country’s second largest industrial waste.
The House’s embrace of David McKinley’s (R-WV) amendment and its attachment to the transportation bill is nothing short of a deadly betrayal of public health. This measure ensures that the nation’s dangerous and leaking coal ash ponds and landfills will continue to operate indefinitely without regulation or federal oversight. If it passes the Senate, it may be the most effective protection of Big Coal ever enacted by Congress.
Today, 3 years after the largest toxic waste spill in U.S. history, 11 environmental and public health groups will file a lawsuitto force the Environmental Protection Agency to complete its rulemaking and finalize public health safeguards against coal ash pollution.
Across the country, communities near retiring coal plants are breathing collective sighs of relief. Closures, however, raise vexing questions about the millions of tons of toxic waste that may lie beneath the surface. Over decades, most plants have buried battleship-sized deposits of coal ash in landfills and lagoons near their plants. In the absence of federal mandates, utilities may leave behind a leaking legacy of deadly pollution, even after the belching stacks are long gone.