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Tr-Ash Talk

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency hosted hearings in Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta to hear public comments about their proposal to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. If finalized, these health protections will reduce mercury and acid gas emissions by 91 percent, reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 55 percent, and capture toxic chemicals like arsenic and hexavalent chromium.

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.

Another week, another voice calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release federal coal ash rules. The drumbeat is getting louder, although it feels like the calls are falling on deaf ears. In this editorial by the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Tennessee paper says the EPA’s announcement that the rule might be delayed leaves much uncertainty for industry and communities about how to handle coal ash.

Several House members and right-wing bloggers believed they struck gold after House members indulged in a bit of chicanery at an April 15th Environment and Energy subcommittee hearing on a bill to remove EPA’s authority to establish strong coal ash regulations. The ruse started when Rep. Cory Gardner (R, CO) excerpted a single sentence from a 242-page Regulatory Impact Analysis prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed rule to regulate disposal of coal ash.  

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