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New Legislation a Dangerous Giveaway to Coal Industry

Leaves communities living near coal ash sites severely at risk
August 2, 2012
Washington, D.C. —

The following statement is from Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club regarding the introduction today of the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2012, legislation in the U.S. Senate dealing with the disposal of toxic coal ash:

In December 2008, one billion gallons of toxic coal ash spilled from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant, destroying homes, poisoning rivers and contaminating coves and residential drinking waters. (TVA)

“This legislation purports to be a compromise between a terrible bill that passed the House of Representatives and a bill protecting public health. Unfortunately, this bill protects polluter profits and fails to ensure protection of public health. Without any enforceable deadlines to permit or close coal ash dumps, weak cleanup standards and a permanent ban on the EPA to ever set federally enforceable safeguards, the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2012 is a sham.

“Nearly 200 coal ash dump sites have contaminated water with pollutants like arsenic, selenium and lead. While this legislation makes some improvements to the House-passed bill, it leaves at-risk communities facing a coal ash program that is not required to protect human health or the environment nowhere to turn if their state cares more about catering to the coal industry than protecting their families.

“Coal ash is poisoning communities. In 2008, a coal ash pond in Tennessee collapsed, destroying 300 acres and two dozen homes. How many more ticking time bombs are out there just waiting to fail? Without enforceable federal safeguards, vulnerable communities living near these sites will never know the answer.

“The EPA has had a plan to regulate coal ash for over two years. They need to finish the job and not leave it to polluters to cause more problems. Coal ash communities deserve clean water and a guarantee of public safety. The Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act will not make that happen.”

Contacts

Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5213

Jennifer Peters, Clean Water Action (202) 895-0420, ext. 105

Eric Schaeffer, Environmental Integrity Project (202) 296-8800

Scott Slesinger, NRDC (202) 289-2402

Eitan Bencuya, Sierra Club (202) 495-3047

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