Posts tagged: coal ash

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

coal ash


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
13 July 2011, 8:08 AM
House GOP claims coal ash is OK in your backyard
Rep. David McKinley (R-WV)

Today we’re gearing up for a vote on H.R. 2273, which is Rep. David McKinley’s (R-WV) attempt to give coal companies a get-out-of-jail free card.

Yesterday, House leaders in the Committee on Energy and Commerce discussed the nature of the legislation, which included much spirited back-and-forth dialogue. Among the highlights (and lowlights):

After the author of the bill, Rep. McKinley, threw around these categorically false statements, such as the declaration that coal is “no more toxic than the earth in your front yard” or “no more hazardous than the soil in our back yard,” it seemed that some House leaders just about had enough.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) called the bill out for what it was: “It is a green-light pass for utility companies to dispose of their waste without regard to public health or the environment.”

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
06 July 2011, 12:08 PM
Would freeze funds used by EPA to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste
House buried in Tennessee coal ash flood

We knew this was coming. After the drama this past winter we knew it was likely that the House had something else up their sleeves. Now this.

To break it down, both the Senate and the House must consider appropriations bills (that fund government agencies) and the House is up first. There are all types of anti-environmental goodies contained in this legislation. Coal ash is addressed in Section 434:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to develop, propose, finalize, implement, administer, or enforce any regulation that identifies or lists fossil fuel combustion waste as hazardous waste subject to regulation under subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6921 et seq.) or otherwise makes fossil fuel combustion waste subject to regulation under such subtitle. 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 July 2011, 9:03 AM
House comes out swinging in its newly revealed 2012 spending bill

The 112th Session of the House of Representatives is at it again, doing what they do best: writing legislation to strike and block the clean air and clean water laws that keep us alive and healthy.

This morning, the House majority released its spending bill for the year 2012, and not to disappoint those who wish to live in a world with big corporations enjoying full freedom to foul our air and water without restriction, penalty or accountability, the bill manages to take direct aim at a handful of landmark environmental safeguards and a slew of major public health protections.

Legislating through appropriations is a back-door, manipulative move in its own right. It essentially means that instead of having to muster the votes required to pass new laws or take our current environmental and health safeguards off the books, House leadership is using a spending bill to simply stop and block all funding for these protections. The laws still stand as they are, they just can't be enforced. The way this House sees it, if the agencies can't get the money to enforce our current laws, there's no need to worry about what the laws actually mandate.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
29 June 2011, 10:46 AM
From Kentucky to Tennessee and West Virginia...
Massive clean-up operations in the aftermath of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

A round-up of coal ash in headlines this week:

As we wait for the mark-up to begin on Rep. David McKinley’s (R-WV) legislation that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency from using its authority to protect people from toxic coal ash waste, one group is mad as heck at the congressman’s effort to block these health safeguards. Activists – more than a dozen in all – picketed last week in front of Rep. McKinley’s office in Morgantown, W. Va. The protestors also sent a letter demanding the congressman withdraw the bill in question.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
22 June 2011, 8:38 AM
House bill would prevent federal regulation of coal ash
Rep. David McKinley

Tomorrow morning, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on a bill to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate coal ash, introduced by Rep. David McKinley (WV-R).  To quote Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone, this is not just a fight about coal ash,  “it's about demonizing the EPA, stalling the clean energy revolution, and putting corporate profits above public health and a sustainable planet.”  Goodell used these words in a recent editorial, referring to the latest corporate nonsense from AEP, the power company that decried its “premature retirement” of plants over half a century old.  While not directly about coal ash, the shoe fits.   

Goodell also is right that this is all about money. 

View Brian Smith's blog posts
21 June 2011, 1:52 PM
"This is not how government is supposed to work"

Americans are worried about their government. We imagine backroom deals are cut, fates are foretold and the little guy always gets shafted because powerful interests own the cops.

Recent events in Kansas prove these fears can be spot-on.

The Kansas City Star has unearthed emails showing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the agency responsible for enforcing the federal Clean Air Act, had an “improper relationship” with an air permit applicant.

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View Emily Enderle's blog posts
16 June 2011, 8:50 AM
Congressman’s district is home to largest coal ash pond
Rep. David McKinley

Here we go again.

Some of our elected leaders are once more maneuvering to block much-needed health protections against coal ash. Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) has sponsored a bill that would broadly remove federal authority for any regulation of coal ash ever. This bill, if enacted, also would conveniently protect his business interests. In April, Politico exposed Rep. McKinley’s business interest in ensuring that coal ash is not regulated. Rep McKinley owns the largest engineering firm in West Virginia and his company uses coal ash in concrete, as fill for roads and other uses.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
07 June 2011, 1:16 PM
44 senators urge Obama to back off coal ash regulation
Claire McCaskill is among 44 senators calling for coal ash to be treated as a non-hazardous waste.

Okay, so we’ve established the hazards of coal ash. There is no doubt that arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, selenium and other toxic metals have no business in our drinking water. So why are 44 of our elected leaders calling on the Obama administration to treat coal ash as a NON-hazardous waste?

Let’s back up a bit: the Obama administration announced a few weeks ago that the coal ash rule will not see the light of day until at least 2012. The EPA had considered regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste after the December 2008 toxic coal ash spill  in Tennessee, which sent 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry gushing into the Emory River and surrounding community. We realized there was continued industry pushback for the rule but were disheartened to learn that it would be delayed, given that there are at least 676 coal ash dams in 35 states, including 48 “high hazard” dams (similar to the Kingston TVA site) across the country. Failure of any of these likely would take human life. Another 136 “significant hazard” dams would cause substantial economic and environmental harm if they failed.

There is no refuting the fact that coal ash is toxic and should be kept away from communities.But some of our senators feel otherwise.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
02 June 2011, 2:49 PM
"The Last Mountain" opens this weekend in DC and NYC
"The Last Mountain" movie poster

The buzz is heightening. The Sundance official selection documentary The Last Mountain is arriving at theaters across America beginning this weekend in Washington, DC, and New York City. Throughout June, it will open in 18 other cities, bringing this film -- on the frightening effects of destructive mountaintop removal mining-- to the biggest metropolitan markets in the nation.

The film is a powerful glimpse into the bombing and razing of mountains in West Virginia for coal, the corrupt politics that enable that destruction, and the people and communities at the foot of the exploded mountains who are paying the real price, and suffering the real costs, of one of America's greatest and most enduring environmental tragedies.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
25 May 2011, 12:15 PM
At only 15 cents a ton, toxic coal ash “disappears” quickly in Puerto Rico

The arrogance and disregard for public health of the Virginia-based power giant, AES Corporation, is stunning. In 2002, AES, one of the world’s largest power companies, built a coal-fired power plant in Guayama, Puerto Rico without a solid waste landfill of any kind. Although the 450-MW power plant churns out almost 400,000 tons of toxic coal ash a year, AES has nowhere to safely dispose of the waste. Yet the situation is apparently working out just fine for AES.

From 2003 to 2004, the plant loaded its waste on 10,000-ton barges and sailed for the Dominican Republic. In the DR, AES dumped an estimated 80,000 tons of coal ash along beaches in the port towns of Arroyo Barill and Manzanillo, under the guise of future port “renovations.”  After the ash sat on the beaches for about two years, blowing into a nearby village, the Dominican Republic sued AES in federal court for $80 million in damages and stopped the dumping. In 2009, a civil action was filed against AES, alleging severe birth defects were caused by the coal ash contamination.

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