Why Strong Coal Ash Regulations Are Essential

Many U.S. communities are being poisoned by unregulated coal ash. According to Earthjustice, a non-profit public interest law organization based in the United States, more than 200 lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water aquifers already have been contaminated. According to Earthjustice, the amount of toxic coal ash that has spilled in the U.S. in the last six years is more than 100 times the amount of oil that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster.

One of the more egregious spills took place this past February, when a coal ash pit owned by Duke Energy, the largest utility in the country, collapsed in North Carolina, spilling more than 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River and contaminating the groundwater with arsenic.  But, with just 92% of the coal ash still coating the river bed, Duke Energy declares its clean up is complete.

Coal ash, the toxic remains of coal burning in power plants, is full of chemicals that cause cancer, developmental disorders and reproductive problems. It poisons our water and kills fish and wildlife.  Despite the hazards it poses to communities, no protections are in place.  In a recent settlement to a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of ten public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes, the U.S. EPA has agreed to finalize the first-ever federal regulations for the disposal of coal ash.  They are working to ensure that regulations are strong enough to close and clean up ALL coal ash dumps; establish federal enforcement authority; and require that those responsible for pollution guarantee their financial ability to clean up coal ash spills and contamination.

What You Can Do

1.  Watch 60 minutes’ Spill at Dan River featuring journalist Leslie Stahl’s interview Lynn Good, Duke Energy’s CEO. Learn why Duke Energy is unwilling to take timely action to protect the health and environment of North Carolina residents.

2. Call the White House (202-456-1111).  Tell President Obama that you want the strongest protections under the law for coal ash, and that you will not stand for the weak standards the polluters will demand.

3. Watch Waiting for Disaster:  Coal Ash on the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River by EJC featuring coal ash pollution that is threatening Illinois’ only national scenic river.  Then sign this petition by our colleagues at Prairie Rivers Network to protect Illinois water from hazardous coal ash.


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