House Subcommittee Votes Increase Coal Ash Exposure, Threaten Public Health

Series of anti-environmental bills advance in subcommittee today, await full committee consideration


Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5213

The House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy voted today to pass three anti-environmental bills that will increase exposure to toxic coal ash, weaken the nation’s Superfund law and limit citizens’ access to sue federal agencies charged with protecting our environment.

The two bills now await full committee consideration. (USDA)

Specifically, the subcommittee voted on:

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013 (H.R. 2218), which

  • Prevents the EPA from finalizing federal regulations for the safe disposal of toxic coal ash;
  • Lacks a nationwide protective standard and minimum enforceable standards applicable to coal ash dumps in all states; 
  • Fails to establish adequate dam stability and toxic dust protections.

The Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013, which

  • Eliminates a basis for a lawsuit where public interest and industry plaintiffs are seeking regulatory certainty and a reasonable timeline for the EPA to establish coal ash safeguards;
  • Weakens Superfund by placing new roadblocks on establishing adequate financial assurance requirements for classes of highly polluting industries;
  • Eviscerates Superfund by establishing insurmountable barriers to applying financial assurance requirements to specific polluting facilities by shifting the burden from the polluting industry to the EPA to demonstrate shortfalls in bonding for cleanups of hazardous substances;
  • Fails to ensure full liability for cleanup of contaminated sites. 

The Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act of 2013, which establishes roadblocks to listing new toxic sites on the National Priority List.

The following statement is from Andrea Delgado, legislative representative at Earthjustice:

“The only thing these bills are concerned about protecting is the polluter’s ability to get away with poisoning communities and leaving their mess behind for someone else to clean up. Protecting our water and air is simply not even a consideration for the proponents of these bills. They seem to think that by simply including the words ‘environmental protection’ into the title of their legislation this qualifies them as stewards of our natural resources. Unfortunately, we all know this isn’t enough. It’s a shame that this committee, which should be putting its time and resources into matters that will protect our health and environment, are more concerned with finding ways to destroy them.”

About the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013, senior administrative counsel Lisa Evans states:

“The bill still fails to correct the fatal deficiencies in public health protection identified so clearly by the Congressional Research Service. The bill cannot and will not ensure that the health and safety of thousands of communities are protected from toxic ash.”

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