Last year, the EPA proposed an air rule that would finally limit the amount of cancer-causing chemicals residents in Mossville, Louisiana would have to breathe from the polyvinyl chloride plant nearby. So it came as a blow when the EPA released a final rule that imposes weaker limits at the CertainTeed plant in Mossville—a facility that emits 19 tons of poisonous air pollutants a year.
Edgar Mouton lived much of his 76 years in Mossville, Louisiana, and for the past decade fought doggedly to obtain federal protections from the toxic pollution that pours into Mossville from the largest concentration of PVC and vinyl manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and a host of other hazardous industrial facilities. As a great-grandfather and leader of Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN), Mr. Mouton worked to prevent the rising rates of cancer, respiratory disease and other illnesses suffered by residents of the historic African American community in southwest Louisiana.
So, you’d think we’d all be in agreement here: clean water is a boon for everyone. That means, keep coal ash (full of mercury, arsenic, hexavalent chromium and other nasty stuff) out of our drinking water, right? Sadly, that doesn’t hold true for everyone. Some members of the House of Representatives think that funding 2.9 million jobs via the transportation bill is a great opportunity to shove in a measure that will block the EPA from ever regulating coal ash on a federal level.
Scratch your heads. It doesn’t make sense to us, either.
We know we have been critical of the Obama administration of late, calling on the Department of Energy to get moving on publishing crucial energy efficiency standards. But we are happy to applaud the administration when they make good on their promise for a clean energy future. The latest: new clothes washer and dishwasher standards will not only save American consumers money on their utility bills, but will lead to washers that use much less energy and water.
We all know the danger that resides in lead-laden paint chips peeling off the walls of old homes. It’s well understood that lead is poisonous and, even in small doses, can harm brain function and cause learning disabilities in children. Lead also is associated with impairment of the cardiovascular, reproductive, kidney and immune systems of adults.
That's why a USA Today investigation documenting the high amounts of lead children are exposed to in several communities across the nation is so alarming. But more on that later.
Last week we announced our intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency to force the release of long-awaited public health safeguards against toxic coal ash. Here is just another example of why states aren’t doing an adequate job keeping this toxic muck out of our drinking water.
So much has happened since that terrible day three years ago when more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge burst through a dam at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, about 150 miles from Nashville.
Usually when our elected leaders fight federal rules, they are going to the mat for their corporate benefactors. Yet we scratch our heads in wonder over who exactly has pushed them to take on this light bulb fight. Last week, the House GOP majority included in their must-pass funding legislation a rider to block funding for DOE’s enforcement of certain light bulb efficiency rules.
Looks like that murky glass of water shouldn’t be your only concern. Several states weak on coal ash disposal also have another dubious claim: many are the worst offenders of air pollution.
In August, we released a report detailing the lack of state-based regulations for coal ash disposal and the 12 worst states when it comes to coal ash dumping.