Coal / Coal Ash

Coal ash limbo: Groups file lawsuit to move EPA while Congress moves to restrict agency authority

Gavin pond, strip mine & Kyger Creek landfill behind, courtesy Elisa Young/Southwings.

WASHINGTON, DC — “Last week, a coalition of environmental and public health groups filed a lawsuit to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the waste created when coal is burned (commonly known as coal ash). Coal ash is disposed of in almost every state, and areas near disposal sites can face increased risks of cancer and other diseases caused by drinking water contamination and exposure to toxins. The suit calls for EPA to set a deadline to adopt federal coal ash protections.

…But Congress is now considering the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2273). The bill passed the House Oct. 14 by a vote of 267-144 despite criticism from Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Its Senate companion bill, S. 1751, was introduced in October by Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Kent Conrad (D-ND), after coal ash ponds in their state received “poor” inspection ratings. The bills would limit federal oversight and require the EPA to defer to states with respect to the regulation of coal ash. Most states do not have standards in place to protect against the dangers of uncontrolled coal ash, according to an August report from Earthjustice and the Appalachian Mountain Advocates.”

— Katie Greenhaw, OMB Watch

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