New Legislation Subverts Protections from Toxic Coal Ash

Hundreds of coal ash sites have already poisoned waters, yet bill fails to provide solution


Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5213

Late last night, Congressman David McKinley (R-WV 1st) introduced bad legislation (H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act) designed to subvert the EPA’s ability to set federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash pollution. Despite having one of the nation’s largest coal ash impoundments in his district—which has contaminated nearby groundwater and streams with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals—Congressman McKinley persists in his misguided mission to allow power companies to continue dumping toxic coal ash into unlined and unmonitored landfills and ponds.

The devastating TVA Kingston Fossil Plant
toxic coal ash spill in 2008. (TVA)

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

“Once again, Rep. McKinley has ignored science, safety standards, and coal ash problems in his own district in order to deliver a bill that threatens community health and safety, water quality, and caters to industry demands. For decades power plants have dumped their toxic coal ash into unlined and unmonitored landfills and immense lagoons. The danger became known when in 2008, a coal ash impoundment in Tennessee burst, dumping over a billion gallons of coal ash into two rivers and destroying or damaging a dozen homes. The tragedy continues as 203 other coal ash dumps in 37 states have contaminated nearby streams, rivers, lakes and aquifers with mercury, lead, arsenic, selenium and more.

The approximately 3-square mile Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment, in Rep. McKinley’s district, is 30 times larger than the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash pond that burst in 2008. (© Bob Donnan. October 2011)

“The so-called Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013 continues the toxic legacy of coal ash contamination. From Puerto Rico to Alaska, Arizona to New York, hundreds of communities are being exposed to toxic metals that can damage organs and cause cancer, yet nothing is being done. This bill not only ignores the threat, it prevents the EPA from ever being able to do anything about it. With H.R. 2218, Rep. McKinley seeks to charge ahead, depriving communities living near coal ash dumps of the strong and enforceable protections that they deserve from toxic dust, water contamination and dangerous impoundments.”

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