Coal / Coal Ash

Can states properly regulate toxic coal ash?

CHARLESTON, WV — “Let’s start this morning by remembering the standard line from opponents of strong EPA regulation of toxic coal ash: States can handle this. And then, let’s take a look at the report out this morning from the folks at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal:

State environment regulators gave We Energies a pass in 2008 – exempting it from certain rules so that construction work could be done atop coal ash landfills on a bluff on the Lake Michigan shoreline at the utility’s Oak Creek Power Plant, officials said Tuesday.

Department of Natural Resources officials determined in 2008 that construction activities on an ash-filled ravine and other small landfills south of the utility’s two plants on the property would not increase the risk of the ash or other contaminants getting into the lake, said Frank Schultz, the department’s waste supervisor in Milwaukee. We Energies is building an air quality control facility for the older power plant at the site.

State environmental and utility regulators at the time decided that the construction activity would not significantly damage the environment, so no impact studies were needed.

Work progressed until Monday, when a wide section of the bluff, including part of an ash-filled ravine, collapsed, sending a destructive cascade of mud down the slope and into the lake. No one is certain of the extent of the environmental damage, DNR officials said.”

Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette