Posts tagged: coal ash

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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 Lisa Evans's blog posts
28 March 2011, 10:52 AM
EPA helped utilities shed millions of tons of waste, but EPA doesn't know where
The EPA’s free pass to large-scale coal ash dumping has undoubtedly placed communities in harm’s way.

The verdict is in. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turned a blind eye to coal ash reuse during the Bush Administration, and, in fact, the agency went a considerable way toward promoting reuses that were dangerous to human health and the environment. 

After a nine-month investigation, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General concluded that the EPA failed to follow accepted practices, which were laid out clearly in the EPA’s own guidelines, to determine the risks posed by the reuse of coal ash in 15 categories of “beneficial use.” Instead, the EPA for years promoted untested, and often dangerous, reuse of coal ash through a partnership with industry initiated during the Bush Administration.

In October 2010, the OIG’s “early warning” report directed the EPA to shut down the promotional website that provided a virtual stamp of approval for such reuse. Now, last week’s OIG report provides greater detail concerning the extent of the EPA’s failure to address potential risks from reuse of coal ash. 

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
25 March 2011, 9:39 AM
Lead gardens, oil-covered lies, hot flash chemicals
Nuclear power has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Photo courtesy of redjar.

Nuclear power industry experiences public fallout
As the nuclear crisis in Japan worsens, concerns about nuclear power's safety are spreading, prompting news agencies to take a second look at the inherently risky technology. As the Christian Science Monitor recently reported, last year U.S. nuclear plants had at least 14 “near misses” that occurred with “alarming frequency” and jeopardized human safety. In addition, Mother Jones recently created an eye-opening chart that lists the location of nuclear plants across the country and their proximity to nearby cities using data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Despite these concerns, many of the world's governments remain largely unphased, except Germany, which has stepped up to the plate by declaring its plans to stop using nuclear power. Sehr gut!

Senator Jeff Bingaman throws gas on oil-drilling lies, lights a match
While many politicians are busy peddling the false claim that the U.S. must drill more to bring down gas prices, last week Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) broke with the ranks by declaring that domestic policies like carbon and oil drilling regulations have little to no effect on the price at the pump, reports Grist. That's because oil prices are set on the global market, which is much more affected by things like, say, Middle East unrest. This indisputable fact has led Bingaman to the remarkably frank conclusion that to “ease the burden of high prices for U.S. consumers when oil prices are determined mostly outside our borders...[we need to] become less vulnerable by using less oil.”

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
23 March 2011, 8:14 AM
Cancer-causing agent found in drinking wells in Madison, Wis.

A while back, we documented the threat of hexavalent chromium in drinking water and the fact that it leaches from coal ash disposal sites across the country. Sadly hexavalent chromium and coal ash share a headline again in this story out of Madison, Wisconsin.

The article details the results of a study that found hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, in 13 of 16 drinking water wells used by residents of Madison. The sources of Madison’s hexavelent chromium water tainting include lumber yards, gas stations, auto body shops, electrical stores, upholsterers and coal ash landfills.

The mention of coal ash is buried toward the end of the story, but the facts are startling. The story details that tons of coal ash from coal plants have been disposed of in landfills in Madison. Furthermore, coal ash was used extensively to fill marshes and city workers continually came across layers of coal ash while digging for street and other construction projects. The amount of chromium released by our nation’s coal-burning power plants is larger than all other industrial sources, according to the EPA.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
14 March 2011, 8:40 AM
From nukes to coal ash: regulators must distinguish fact from fiction
Coal ash flood in Tennessee

“We all have a responsibility to ensure that the American people have facts and the truth in front of them, particularly when fictions are pushed by special interests with an investment in the outcome.”  - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in testimony before Congress on March 10 in response to false claims by Republicans and special interest groups concerning the reach and impact of proposed regulations.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) railed at a recent Congressional hearing about EPA regulations that treat spilled milk on dairy farms like spilled oil.  The fact that this is plainly false did not stop him from saying it, nor Rep. Morgan Griffith (R- VA) from spreading the lie in a newsletter to his constituents, nor did it deter the Wall Street Journal from publishing the editorial that started the rumor. The fact that dairy industry representatives supported the EPA apparently carried little weight or news value.

Big lies are popular currency on Capital Hill.  Another circulating in Congress is that federal regulation of coal ash will “kill” all beneficial reuse of ash, that the reliability of the electric grid is threatened by a coal ash rule, and that the cost of safely disposing of coal ash is too high for coal-burning power plants or consumers to bear.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
08 March 2011, 11:28 AM
19 Congressmen oppose a rule designed to save the lives of their constituents

When members of the House of Representatives return to their districts for April recess, many should be called to task for supporting a budget rider that would kill a coal ash rulemaking designed to protect the health, homes and livelihood of their constituents.

How, for example, can one explain the voting record of most of the 25 congressmen whose districts host 49 high hazard coal ash dams  - those impoundments of toxic waste that, by definition, are likely to take human lives if they break?

In a rational world, every one of those members would support an EPA rulemaking that requires the phase-out of these deadly impoundments and the conversion to recycling systems and safer dry disposal. But 16 Republicans and three Democratic congressmen in a dozen states whose districts host at least one, and sometimes several, high hazard ponds, voted for a rider that prevents EPA from requiring such a phase-out.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
23 February 2011, 7:29 AM
The House’s rabid attack on EPA authority to regulate coal ash
Rep. David McKinley's amendment ties the EPA’s hands on the issue of coal ash—and sweetens the bottom line of industry.

Early Saturday morning, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the House budget bill that had nothing to do with trimming the federal deficit, but everything to do with sweetening the bottom line of the likes of Duke Energy, AEP, Ameren and Southern Company.

The House passed this amendment at about two in the morning (when few were watching), This amendment, offered by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), would “prohibit the use of funds by EPA to develop, propose, finalize, implement, administer, or enforce any regulation that identifies or lists fossil fuel combustion waste as hazardous waste subject to regulation.” In short, the amendment would tie EPA’s hands on the issue of coal ash in the middle of its ongoing rulemaking. The only avenue left open to EPA by this amendment would be publication of unenforceable “guidelines” that states would have absolutely no obligation to adopt. 

The amendment would prevent EPA from setting enforceable national standards, thus guaranteeing that power plants in the dirtiest coal-burning states, such as Texas, Indiana, Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio, would continue to dump ash and sludge in unlined pits and ponds that threaten the communities nearby (and below) their enormous toxic dump sites.

View Marty Hayden's blog posts
19 February 2011, 9:40 AM
House leaders give industry handouts and cut public health protections

 It’s a shame that it took the House days and many late night and early morning hours to come up with a budget plan like this. And during the wee hours of 4:35 a.m. the final roll call counted a vote of 235 to 189. And just like that our elected leaders eliminated safeguards for our air, water and wildlife.

The House voted to turn Florida’s once-clear waters into poisonous blooms of green slime. It also gave polluters the green light to continue choking our air with mercury pollution from cement kilns, to dump toxic coal ash in communities nationwide, to blow up the mountains of Appalachia and to endanger salmon and slaughter our wolves. Our elected leaders also took aim at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, limiting them from curbing the carbon dioxide pollution of the nation's biggest polluters, which they are lawfully required to do.

 In more detail, some of the most harmful amendments adopted:

View Liz Judge's blog posts
18 February 2011, 4:15 PM
House lawmakers continue to slash essential protections for the American public

As I write this, members of the House of Representatives continue to debate and move their way through votes on hundreds of amendments to the chamber's government spending bill. The voting and debate has been a marathon process, stretching from morning through late at night for the last three days, and looks to carry on until late tonight or tomorrow.

Once the amendments are voted on and settled, the whole House will cast a final vote on the entire bill package with all the passed amendments. Then the Senate takes its turn, crafting a spending bill of its own. The two chambers must then confer and agree on one bill that funds the federal government by March 4 -- or the government must shut down until its spending and funding sources are settled.

The amendments that the House is currently considering are wide-ranging. They aim to cut government spending by cutting the funding streams of hundreds of government programs. So, instead of ending those programs through legislation and appropriate voting, many members of the House are seeking to delete the programs by wiping out the funds that keep them going.

View Patti Goldman's blog posts
17 February 2011, 6:45 AM
Amendments target wildlife, water, air, public health, natural resources

Forty years of environmental progress is under attack today by a vote in the House of Representative on a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government running.

Unfortunately, that measure—called a continuing resolution—is loaded with amendments and provisions that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, and seeks to override the rule of law at every turn.

These so-called  “riders” could not pass on their own merits, so their sponsors hope they will ride the coat-tails of this must-pass budget bill. Like fleas, they come with the dog, only these are far more than irritants. They would overturn court decisions that we have obtained to stop illegal behavior and force federal agencies to comply with the law.

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
16 February 2011, 10:38 AM
Amendments to funding bill target everything from wolves to water to health
Wolves are on the congressional hit list

House Republicans are using the oft-repeated refrain of “fiscal restraint” as their excuse for gutting several environmental initiatives that will put the public in harm’s way. But there simply is no excuse for hacking away at health protections that will leave our air and water dirtier and our children and seniors at risk.  It’s not hard to see their real agenda. In many cases their proposals are clearly designed to make it easier for some of America’s biggest polluters to dump their pollution on us rather than pay to dispose of it responsibly. 

House GOP’s Public Enemy Number 1: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The spending legislation introduced this week slashes the EPA budget by $3 billion and blocks the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. And in a symbolic dig against the White House, the bill also stymies President Barack Obama from replacing departing lead White House climate and energy advisor Carol Browner.
 
The spending plan also tries to block the EPA from fully implementing the Clean Water Act, while effectively letting major polluters foul our water. This will jeopardize drinking water for 117 million Americans and could leave millions of  acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams and rivers without Clean Water Act protections from pollution. But it doesn’t stop there.

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