The Latest On: Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives
Last month we marked three years since the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston coal ash spill, underscoring the fact that the EPA has yet to regulate toxic coal ash waste.
Now we have even more reason to be concerned.
President Obama won the White House on a platform of hope and change – promising an end to dirty corporate influence over our political system and a beginning to an era in which our energy choices lead us to a clean, sustainable future, or at least don’t kill us or make us sick.
So far, the president’s performance has been mixed – with some deliveries on the promise and some disappointments. His last year, whether in office or in his first term, will be crucial in righting his spotty record and making good on his campaign promises to the American people.
So much has happened since that terrible day three years ago when more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge burst through a dam at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, about 150 miles from Nashville.
Looks like that murky glass of water shouldn’t be your only concern. Several states weak on coal ash disposal also have another dubious claim: many are the worst offenders of air pollution.
In August, we released a report detailing the lack of state-based regulations for coal ash disposal and the 12 worst states when it comes to coal ash dumping.
It’s been a hard year for those of us who dream of our drinking water being free from coal ash contamination. We waited for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release standards for regulating toxic coal ash and were dismayed to find out they would be delayed until the end of 2012 or even 2013.
This week, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment will investigate how the Environmental Protection Agency incorporates science into its rulemaking process. Given that the EPA has been Public Enemy Number 1 for the GOP-controlled House, this is likely to be another opportunity for Republicans and their comrades to target the EPA.
Coal ash—the toxic byproduct of coal-fired power plants—has contaminated drinking water supplies at hundreds of sites across the country. If you live near an unlined coal ash pond, there is a 1 in 50 chance of developing cancer from drinking contaminated water. This is 2,000 times higher than acceptable risk levels!
We’re closing in on the 3-year anniversary of the TVA coal ash disaster and there are still no federal regulations in place protecting us from coal ash. And now, another spill: in Oak Creek, Wisconsin a bluff collapsed, sending coal ash and debris from We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant into Lake Michigan.