It’s Time to Act on Coal Ash

by Robert Gardner

September 28, 2010

This morning activists unfurled a banner at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville that read “EPA: PROTECT PEOPLE, NOT POLLUTERS.” The peaceful protest was held at the location of EPA’s Coal Ash public hearing on two vastly different proposals for the regulation of coal ash disposal.

Activists took this step to ensure that the EPA establishes federal minimum standards for toxic coal ash that protect our communities and the environment.

Polluting coal companies want to keep coal cheap. The only way they can do that is to offload their costs to people and the environment. They dump coal residue wherever they can without consideration of the consequences. Polluters only do the minimum required by law so that they can reap the maximum profit. 

We know that toxins in coal ash have been linked to cancer, respiratory illness, neurological damage, organ disease, and reproductive and developmental problems. We know that it contains arsenic, lead, and mercury among other toxic metals. We know that business as usual will not protect the health and welfare of the American people.

Despite this, “King Coal” is fighting common sense federal minimum standards with all their corporate might.

Coal ash has contaminated our drinking water supplies and will only get worse as the waste stream grows in volume and toxicity.

Business as usual isn’t going to help the good people that happen to live next to coal ash dumping sites. Business as usual won’t remediate these areas. And nowhere is that concern as tangible as it is in Kentucky.

Almost one of out of every eight High Hazard coal ash impoundment sites identified by the EPA nationwide is in Kentucky. This places Kentucky third nationally. Furthermore, Louisville Gas and Electric is proposing to increase its Cane Run impoundment. Cane Run is already one of the 49 highest risk impoundments in the nation. Expanding it flies in the face of common sense and public health. To add insult to injury, expansion of Cane Run could leave LG&E ratepayers holding the bag not once, but twice. Once to expand it and then twice to decommission this toxic dump. We stand with the residents of Louisville in saying ‘no’ to a repeat of the Kingston tragedy in Kentucky and ‘no’ to wasting ratepayer money.

If we can’t mine coal without destroying our mountains — we shouldn’t mine it. If we can’t burn coal without destroying our air quality — we shouldn’t burn it. If we can’t dispose of coal ash without destroying our water — we shouldn’t create it.

It’s time for the EPA to protect people and not polluters. The more we burn coal, the more trouble we’re in. We need to tell the EPA that we support regulating coal ash under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Coal Ash is hazardous waste; it destroys communities, destroys our ecosystem, and unless regulated, will continue to do so in increasing amounts.

The time to act on coal ash is now. Won’t you help us get to our target of 10,000 signatures? Click here to take action!

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.