Environmental litigation prevails, with local coal ash communities to finally gain some protection. The U.S. EPA will finalize the first-ever federal regulations for the disposal of coal ash by December 19, 2014, according to a court settlement.
"You flip on a light switch.
That power is not coming from that light switch—that power is generated somewhere else. And it impacts people."
The Moapa River Indian Reservation, tribal home of a band of Paiute Indians, sits about 30 miles north of Las Vegas—and about 300 yards from the coal ash landfills of the Reid Gardner Power Station.
On World Water Day in 2012, residents of Asheville, North Carolina came together to protect their waters from coal ash. The toxic stew of pollutants that can cause birth defects, cancer and organ damage, has already polluted many waterways.
Legal Fight For Long Overdue Coal Ash Protections
Earthjustice is representing 11 environmental and public health groups in a lawsuit to force the U.S. EPA to complete its rulemaking process and finalize public health safeguards against toxic coal ash.
Toxic Coal Ash Problem at Colstrip in Montana
Earthjustice filed an appeal with Montana’s Board of Environmental Review on behalf of conservation groups, claiming that the state is doing little to nothing to address decades of groundwater pollution from Colstrip’s waste tailings ponds. Sludge ponds holding toxic coal ash waste from the Colstrip power plant were first discovered to be leaking nearly a decade ago.
Coal ash disposal sites may be closer than you realize. Explore fact sheets by state and known cases of contamination and spills.
In response to FOIA requests, EPA has revealed the existence of more than 1,000 coal ash dump sites across the country. Find out where they are.
Across the country, there have been nearly 200 documented cases of coal ash pond failures and water contamination. Find out where they've occurred.
EPA rates coal ash ponds according to criteria that categorizes the ponds by the damage that would occur if the pond collapses.
Coal ash commonly contains some of the world’s deadliest toxicants that can cause cancer and neurological damage.
The toxic pollutants in coal ash have the potential to injure all major organ systems, damage physical health and development—and contribute to mortality.
Current methods of coal ash disposal often lead to contaminated drinking water— and the differences in toxic metal concentration amounts between safe drinking water and coal ash are staggering.
Everyday, communities across the United States are bearing the true impacts of toxic coal ash pollution. See some of their stories:
The tribal home of a band of Paiute Indians sits about 30 miles north of Las Vegas—and about 300 yards from the coal ash landfills of the Reid Gardner Power Station.
No federal standards exist to regulate how coal ash is disposed or recycled. Follow Earthjustice's ongoing work for federally enforceable safeguards in the series, Tr-Ash Talk.
Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals
In 2010, the EPA proposed the first ever federal regulation of coal ash. The agency proposed two options: one offers a groundbreaking solution to closing and monitoring leaking toxic coal ash dumps, while the other perpetuates the status quo.
EPA will act by December 2014 on a final federal coal ash rule.
Final Comments on EPA's Proposed Rule
In a 230-page comment letter to the EPA, Earthjustice and its partners clearly demonstrated that the EPA must choose the option to regulate coal ash as a "special waste" under subtitle C, with federally enforceable minimum standards applicable in every state.
Introduced by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), H.R. 2218 endangers public health and the safety of thousands of communities by subverting the EPA’s ability to set federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash pollution.
Hundreds of coal ash sites have already poisoned waters, yet H.R. 2218 would allow power companies to continue dumping toxic coal ash into unlined and unmonitored landfills and ponds.
This dangerous bill would have permanently prohibited the EPA from ever setting federal coal ash protections, posing a significant threat to communities living near coal ash sites.
S. 3512 is bad for jobs, the economy and recycling. Although the bill purports to support recycling and jobs, it actually hurts both. See how.
A comparison chart analyzes the presence or absence of regulatory requirements under four different regulatory schemes:
1. EPA's proposed subtitle C (special waste) rule;
2. EPA's proposed subtitle D (nonhazardous waste) rule;
3. H.R. 2273 / S. 1751; and
4. S. 3512.
Analysis from Earthjustice and its partners have documented the growing public health threat from coal ash:
An exhaustive review of state regulations in 37 states, which together comprise over 98% of all coal ash generated nationally.
Leaking coal ash sites across the country are documented sites for hexavalent chromium—a toxic carcinogen— contamination in groundwater.