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.


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.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
15 November 2011, 1:34 PM
Senate briefing highlights dire threat from coal ash
Massive clean-up operations in the aftermath of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

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.

Yes, we’ve had enough of this. But we’re not alone. Republicans have come under fire for questioning science by Democrats as well as members of their own party. In an article in E&E News, former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly, who served under President George H. W. Bush, said “for some of the most prominent leaders of the Republican Party, science has left the building.”

Ouch - but we couldn’t agree more.

1 Comment   /  
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
01 November 2011, 11:25 AM
Coal ash spills into Lake Michigan near Milwaukee power plant
Coal ash spill into Lake Michigan

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.

Writing this off as a “freak accident” or “mudslide” is a dangerous err in judgment. Coal ash has toxic levels of arsenic, hexavalent chromium, mercury, lead and other chemicals. Would you want that in your drinking water? No, and sadly, that is a reality to people who live near these sites in Wisconsin.

We’re still waiting on details from this spill (how many tons of coal ash, how far does it extend, etc.) and there are many questions. Maureen Wolff lives a mile from the power plant and walked to the shoreline shortly after the incident. She saw the dark color of the debris and wondered if it was coal ash.

“All this is going along the coast line and they’re telling people all it is is just a few trailers and possibly some tools. No one is saying what exactly is in it,” she is quoted saying in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

1 Comment   /  
View Emily Enderle's blog posts
21 October 2011, 10:48 AM
Pals of polluters vote to let coal ash poison our water supplies
Clean-up operations in the aftermath of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

On Friday, in a 267–144 vote, a majority of House members voted to keep allowing coal ash to pollute our drinking water. The passage of the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2273) lets states choose to adopt a disposal standard less protective than those for household garbage.

The bill fails to protect communities from drinking water polluted by arsenic, hexavalent chromium and other cancer-causing chemicals or disasters like the TVA spill. It doesn’t even take the most basic step of eliminating wet disposal ponds, which both EPA’s proposed options include. Further, it doesn’t create a federally enforceable baseline standard and serves solely to establish a toothless regime that treats this ash with fewer protections than household garbage.

Under the leadership of Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), the GOP-controlled House has taken aim at public health and transparency, undermining the efforts of the EPA to use the best available science to complete their public rulemaking addressing coal ash.

View Stephanie Maddin's blog posts
20 October 2011, 10:02 AM
Sick citizens and ravaged environment equal healthy economy?
Rep. Eric Cantor (VA-7)

This week, President Obama has conducted a bus tour through my home state of Virginia and North Carolina. The tour focused on job creation and the state of our economy.

Unfortunately, Republican leadership in Congress thinks weakening our clean air and water protections is the foundation of economic renewal.

Since returning from August recess, the House of Representatives has passed some of the most anti-environmental and anti-public health legislation in its history. These bills—which indefinitely delay air pollution standards for power plants, industrial boilers/incinerators and cement plants—passed as key provisions in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s “Jobs Agenda.”

2 Comments   /  
View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
14 October 2011, 2:45 PM
House of Reps steers country toward the rocks

Somewhere along the road from their home districts to their offices in Washington, D.C., our Congressional representatives got their wires crossed. The American public sent them forth with a mandate to run the country, but instead, they're ruining it.

Toward the end of September, the House passed the first piece of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) Toxic Agenda: H.R. 2401, the so-called TRAIN Act—an absolute wreck of public policy. It ties to the tracks and threatens to run over two clean air standards that would prevent up to 51,000 premature deaths every year and generate $420 billion in annual economic benefits by cleaning up dirty coal plants.

Does America support Cantor's agenda? Do we want to board a crazy train bound for a future of dirty air, more disease and shorter lives? The answer, not surprisingly, is No. NO.

Recent polling shows that 75 percent of voters—including 62 percent of Cantor's party—think that the Environmental Protection Agency, not Congress, should make decisions about clean air standards. Large majorities are also against delaying (67 percent) or blocking (76 percent) the clean air standards that Cantor's TRAIN wreck is colliding with.

24 Comments   /  
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
14 October 2011, 11:33 AM
Earthjustice President Denounces Vote in Congress
The House has passed legislation that would prevent the EPA from strongly regulating coal ash.

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is strongly denouncing a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives today, passing H.R. 2273, which would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from strongly regulating coal ash:

"Nearly three years after the tragic spill of more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash in Kingston, Tennessee, it’s obvious that federally enforceable safeguards for the disposal of this toxic waste are long overdue. In fact, 267 members of the House of Representatives have taken the disturbing step of moving us even further away from this important public safety goal.

View Alana Bryant's blog posts
12 October 2011, 11:46 AM
Debunking polluters' unfounded fears
Massive clean-up operations in the aftermath of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

The anticipated vote on H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, will be upon us Friday. The bill (sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (WV-R)) would prevent the EPA from establishing a strong national rule to protect American’s health and drinking water from the nation’s second largest industrial waste stream: coal ash.

There are myriad health hazards associated with coal ash disposal sites, due to the many toxic chemicals that are contained in the ash such as arsenic, hexavalent chromium, lead and mercury, just to name a few.  From high cancer risk from poisoned drinking water, to blowing toxic dust, to the risk of catastrophic collapse, too much is at stake to not properly regulate this toxic waste.

But we know now that a strong coal ash rule includes another benefit: 28,000 new American jobs every year.

1 Comment   /  
View Joshua Ulan Galperin's blog posts
07 October 2011, 7:35 AM
Next week House preparing to tie EPA's hands
Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

East Tennessee is not known for its population of environmental activists, but last fall hundreds of people turned up in Knoxville to ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt a special waste designation for coal ash. Support for EPA’s public health and environmental safeguard is strong here because the 2008 Kingston coal ash disaster occurred in our backyard, making the danger of toxic coal ash blatantly clear.

Experts at the EPA have now spent years reviewing data related to the dangers of coal ash, and they have listened to the opinions and ideas of citizens, including those here in East Tennessee.  Shockingly, even while the EPA reviews the opinions of hundreds of thousands of citizens, anti-environmental crusaders in the United States House of Representatives are preparing to undermine these voices as well as the expertise of the EPA.

Next week the House of Representatives is preparing to vote on H.R. 2273, a bill that would prohibit comprehensive federal oversight of coal ash. H.R. 2273 is a gift to coal companies at the expense of public health and the environment.

View Alana Bryant's blog posts
28 September 2011, 7:54 AM
Finger-pointing and blaming ensue among TVA representatives
Coal ash spill

The TVA Kingston trial has gotten off to a interesting, yet unsettling start. The trial consists of five cases, representing 250 plaintiffs who are suing TVA over the 2008 coal ash disaster that occurred in Knoxville, TN.

Testimony began last week, and proceedings are expected to continue anywhere from the next few weeks to the next few months. Representatives from TVA have been the first to testify, and so far it has been laden with blame-passing statements that characterize the disjointed nature of the TVA departments.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that TVA Engineer Matthew Williams was responsible for maintaining the groundwater monitoring system at the Kingston plant, but faced difficulties when other TVA crews repeatedly ran over his devices with heavy machinery.

3 Comments   /  
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
21 September 2011, 12:28 PM
As TVA trial begins, House members question coal ash rule

As a federal trial on the TVA Kingston coal ash disaster continues in Knoxville, some of our elected leaders in Congress are including the coal ash rule (already delayed due to heavy industry opposition) in a list of rules that will be analyzed - and likely even more delayed.

But more on that later.

The trial is in response to the December 2008 TVA coal ash disaster, which spilled more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge into the Emory River, rupturing a natural gas line, disrupting power and transportation, destroying three homes and forcing the evacuation of a nearby community. Nearly three years later, 230 plaintiffs are suing the TVA over property damage and the ill health effects caused by the spill.