House Vote on Coal Ash Will Cost Lives, Jobs

Neutering EPA’s ability to regulate toxic coal ash serves only corporate polluters


Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 5213

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 267–144 today to pass H.R. 2273, a misguided attempt to neuter the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to set the first ever federal regulations on coal ash. Despite evidence showing groundwater contamination from arsenic, lead and other toxic metals at hundreds of sites and a recent study showing that federal coal ash regulations would create 28,000 new jobs every year, the House voted to put the interests of corporate polluters ahead of the American public.

Coal ash contaminates the surface of Watts Bar Lake, TN after the December 2008 Kingston Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill. (© Jerry D. Greer)

The following statement is from Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice:

“Nearly three years after the tragic spill of more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash in Kingston, Tennessee, it’s obvious that federally enforceable safeguards for the disposal of this toxic waste are long overdue. In fact, 267 members of the House of Representatives have taken the disturbing step of moving us even further away from this important public safety goal.

“This Congress is turning their backs on what hundreds of communities living near coal ash ponds and landfills really need. Instead, these elected officials are paying attention only to the needs of corporate polluters intent on preserving their old, dangerous way of doing business. Coal ash is a toxic menace. We cannot afford another spill like the one in Tennessee, and the cold truth is that there are dozens of sites that could become another tragedy any day. Moreover, at hundreds of other coal ash sites, drinking water is contaminated with toxic heavy metals that can cause cancer and other disease.

“A recent study by Tufts University found that federal regulations for coal ash could provide 28,000 new jobs every year. At a time when our economy is struggling and so many Americans are out of work and trying to make ends meet, it’s shameful that 267 members of the House are turning their backs on real jobs. Rather than acting to protect America’s health and environment, it’s obvious that some members of Congress are only acting to protect polluter profits.”

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