To House Majority, Coal Ash is More Important Than People
On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job…
On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.
Source: New York Times. See the Senate and House vote breakdown
Did the extreme right in Congress get what they wanted out of this theater and was it worth holding workers’ and families’ budgets hostage and taking us to the brink of default? The House had prepared a wish list of deeply harmful energy, environment and public health policy riders that got sidelined by its attack on Obamacare.
On the environmental front, the litany of damaging riders would make the fossil fuel and electric generating industry salivate. The list included forcing the permitting of the Keystone pipeline, blocking greenhouse gas regulations to curb climate change, expanding drilling on federal lands, and Rep. McKinley’s (R-WV-01) favorite, his vendetta against federal protections for communities living near toxic coal ash dumps.
Irresponsible coal ash dumping practices have led to massive toxic spills, choked rivers, fish kills and contaminated water in more than 200 sites across the nation, but that’s not enough to deter Rep. McKinley from preventing the EPA from setting long-overdue standards. Instead of allowing a federal baseline of protection, he favors a patch-work of state-created standards without the requirement that they protect human health and the environment.
With less than 90 days to the next fiscal fight, the clock is ticking. Whether Congress has the will to avoid the next showdown without these harmful policy riders remains to be seen. Nonetheless, while the majority in the House may have come out of this empty-handed, you can count on their persistent and misguided appetite to prioritize toxic dumps over precautions for the public.
Andrea L. Delgado believes that hazardous waste, chemicals and pesticides shouldn’t threaten communities. She was a part of Earthjustice's Policy & Legislation team, working with Congress and federal agencies to strengthen policies to protect the public from harmful substances.
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.