Fighting Coal Ash from the Inside

Groups work to push power company shareholders on coal ash resolutions

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Power companies generate millions of tons of coal ash every year, enough to fill train cars that stretch from the North Pole all the way to the South Pole. EPA recently introduced a mish-mash plan for coal ash, one that was heavily influenced by lobbyists from coal and power companies who forced a plan that includes no preference from the EPA. Earthjustice and dozens of other groups have been pushing on the EPA to establish federally enforceable safeguards that truly protect public health and the environment.

And while we take on the EPA and the coal and power industry lobbyists, some other groups have been quietly and effectively working on the inside of these companies to push for recognition of the collosal problems of coal ash dumping and contamination.

Boston-based Green Century Capital Management proposed a resolution to be voted on this Wednesday at the annual meeting of Southern Company, one of the biggest power companies in the South. The resolution asks Southern to report on efforts and information about the company’s coal ash dumps and waste ponds by August, which should run right during the EPA’s public comment period on their proposed regulation.

It’s not the first time groups have pushed on power companies to recognize the problems of coal ash. As You Sow Foundation in San Francisco proposed a similar resolution for CMS Energy just last week, and other resolutions to Montana-Dakota Utilities, or MDU. The MDU resolution received 25.6 percent support, a strong showing for first-time environmental resolutions. Environmental resolutions often recieve only 5-7 percent support, so this is a very promising development. It’s not a surprise that both CMS and Southern are opposing these resolutions (they are power companies, after all), but it’s great to see the exciting work being done to bring the problems of coal ash right to the doorsteps of the companies most responsible.


Jared was the head coach of Earthjustice's advocacy campaign team from 2004 to 2014.

Earthjustice’s Washington, D.C., office works at the federal level to prevent air and water pollution, combat climate change, and protect natural areas. We also work with communities in the Mid-Atlantic region and elsewhere to address severe local environmental health problems, including exposures to dangerous air contaminants in toxic hot spots, sewage backups and overflows, chemical disasters, and contamination of drinking water. The D.C. office has been in operation since 1978.