The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the first-ever federal standards for the storage and disposal of coal ash aimed at protecting thousands of communities from the 140 million tons of ash pollution produced annually by America’s coal plants.
For years, environmental and public health organizations have called on the EPA and the Obama Administration to impose common-sense protections for retired and active coal ash sites that treat the disposal of this toxic waste stream with the same level of scrutiny as other dangerous substances.
In 2012, Western North Carolina Alliance joined several environmental organizations and an Indian tribe to obtain a court-ordered deadline for the coal ash rule.
“After coal ash disasters in Tennessee and North Carolina,” said WNCA’s French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson, “we welcome a coal ash rule that will start to take steps towards protecting the environment and our communities from toxic coal ash.”
However, WNCA and our Riverkeeper are disappointed that the standard allows utilities to continue disposing of coal ash in ponds and does not incorporate strong federal enforcement. The standard still leaves people to largely fend for themselves against powerful utility interests that have historically ignored public health in favor of delayed action.
Moving forward, WNCA and our coalition partners will use every tool available to strengthen this EPA safeguard, pressure state governments to do more to help communities suffering from ash pollution, and work with local residents to stand up to the utilities responsible for poisoning their water and air with this toxic industrial waste.