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Coal

The Cheswick coal fire power plant in Springdale, PA.

Last month, we celebrated EPA's announcement that it is proposing first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the nation's biggest contributors to climate change.  After years of paralysis in Washington, there is a real prospect of national action on climate that will shrink the U.S. carbon footprint and set the stage for more productive international negotiations in Paris, where the president may now arrive with new leverage and even some moral authority for a change.

The devastating TVA Kingston coal ash spill of 2008.

It was standing room only, today, in a stately meeting room in the U.S. Capitol building as Senate staffers and a group of citizens gathered for a briefing about the hazards of toxic coal ash waste. Earthjustice and the Sierra Club organized the briefing in an effort to educate elected officials and their staff on the importance of keeping off the Senate floor any legislation that would prevent the EPA from regulating this toxic waste.

Wind turbines in a Kansas wheat field.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has given Sunflower Electric the green light to build a massive, dirty coal fired power plant. Just last year, the Kansas Supreme Court found the permit for this plant to be illegal because it failed to meet the most basic protections for clean air. Despite that ruling, KDHE recently reissued the permit virtually unchanged, once again failing to protect the citizens of Kansas from harmful air pollution. 

It’s only been a few months since the chemical company Freedom Industries spilled an estimated 10,000 gallons of a coal chemical into the Elk River, contaminating the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians. Yet, it seems that a handful of Freedom’s executives are already getting a fresh start with a new chemical company that’s strikingly similar to the original.

The toxic coal ash turned the Dan River gray for 20 miles east of the North Carolina border.

Although the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources found Duke Energy in gross violation of the federal Clean Water Act, the state agency placed so little value on public health that they were willing to settle for a pittance—a penny per ton of toxic coal ash stored at Duke’s two illegally polluting plants. To rub ash into the wound, the agency didn’t even require Duke to stop the flow of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and other toxic metals from the millions of tons of coal ash at the plants, much less clean up the pollution.

Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Chairman William Anderson holds a photo of the Reid Gardner Power Station.

Late yesterday, the Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA lodged a consent decree with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that requires the EPA to publish a final rule addressing the disposal of coal ash by Dec. 19, 2014. The settlement came as a result of a lawsuit brought by 10 public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes against the EPA for its failure to review and revise its regulations pertaining to coal ash.

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