U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler is rapidly dismantling the first-ever national protections to safeguard communities from coal ash, one of the largest industrial toxic waste streams. Coal ash contains deadly substances, including carcinogens like arsenic, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium, and neurotoxins such as lead and lithium. Because coal ash is stored uncovered in unlined pits near rivers or lakes, toxic chemicals can seep into groundwater and contaminate nearby water bodies.
These first-ever coal ash regulations set only a bare minimum of protection, so in 2015 Clean Water Action and other groups sued EPA to strengthen them—and won. In August 2018 the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that EPA failed to protect communities from unlined and inadequately lined ash dumps and ordered the Agency to revise its 2015 coal ash rule to address threats to the environment and public health from these dangerous sites. The Court also ordered EPA to regulate coal ash ponds at closed power plants, finding the Agency had illegally exempted these sites from its 2015 rule.
This proposal to weaken coal ash protections only benefits polluting utilities. It puts our water and health at risk. Send a message to EPA today.