Act Now to Protect Communities from Toxic Coal Ash
The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011 (H.R. 2273), to be voted on in the House of Representatives this week, would override pending Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules designed to regulate toxic coal ash produced by coal-fired power plants, strip mining, and mountaintop removal. Coal ash, a residual of coal-fired power plants and dangerous extraction processes such as strip mining and mountaintop removal, contains toxins such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. This residual waste material is currently used by agriculture and construction industries to produce concrete, drywall, and fertilizers, or it is dumped to fill vast pits or flattened mountains, after which it is covered with soil. There is no safe setting or condition in which coal ash can be safely and reliably used; when left in the ground, its toxins eventually leech into local communities’ soil and groundwater sources.
The pending EPA rules come just three years after one of the greatest environmental crises in our country, the Kingson Fossil Plant coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee (see photo at above right). The 5.4 million cubic yards of wet coal ash released after the collapse of a retaining wall contaminated the Emory River well above acceptable toxicity levels for drinking, swimming, or fishing, and lead to the death of hundreds of aquatic creatures. In classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste for the first time, the pending EPA rules are vital to protecting the lives of humans and animals and preserving the environment’s well-being.
We must not allow toxic coal ash to continue to wreak havoc in our communities. Urge your Representative to oppose the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011 (H.R. 2273). You can send an email by clicking here, or reach the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121.