Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)–October 24, 2014. State representatives from the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators this week submitted a sign-on letter calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) to swiftly finalize strong coal ash and toxic water pollution standards for coal-burning power plants. The letter comes just eight weeks before the agency’s December 19 deadline to finalize a rule on coal ash standards.
Delivered to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the letter signed by 155 state representatives notes that dangerous waste from burning leaches into drinking water and pollutes the air of communities near toxic dump sites because there are no federal safeguards for disposal. The letter also notes that EPA itself has determined that coal-fired power plants are responsible for at least 50 to 60 percent of the toxic water pollutants discharged into U.S. waters. Yet, at present, four out of five coal plants in the U.S. have no limits on the amount of toxics they are allowed to dump into our water. Many of these toxic pollutants pose serious health and environmental damage even in very low concentrations, which is why, the signatories argue, strong standards are essential to protect our communities, drinking water, and wildlife.
“We urge the EPA to protect our waterways from toxic coal pollution by adopting strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal and reuse under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and for water pollution discharges from coal plants under the Clean Water Act quickly,” stated the letter. “Without strong federal standards to safeguard our waterways, coal-burning power plants will keep sending toxic sludge into rivers and streams, which provide recreation, habitat to fish and wildlife, and drinking water sources.”
“Right now, the EPA has the opportunity to meet its responsibility to the American people and put into place actual, strong measures that will prevent coal ash disasters that have been plaguing American communities for far too long,” said Dalal Aboulhosn, Senior Washington Representative with the Sierra Club.
Signatories include many distinguished elected officials across the country, including several from North Carolina who have dealt with the lack of federal safeguards firsthand when a burst stormwater pipe underneath an unlined coal ash pit dumped 140,000 tons of coal ash and toxic wastewater into the Dan River earlier this year.
“Our experience in the Southeast, including the Dan River disaster, has shown that communities cannot count on state agencies and state law alone to protect their clean water nationwide. Our communities and our rivers need strong national safeguards to protect them from coal ash pollution and coal ash catastrophes,” said Frank Holleman, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
“Representatives are asking for strong regulations because they know these rules will protect the health and economic wellbeing of their constituents,” said Lisa Evans, senior administrative counsel at Earthjustice. “Coal ash pollution places a heavy burden on local communities across the nation, but help is on the way.”
“EPA needs to end the “free pass to pollute” that power plants have gotten for the past thirty years. Power plants have gotten special treatment that allows them to dump billions of pounds of toxic chemicals into our nation’s waters, including rivers and streams that are sources of drinking water. This special treatment has come at a huge cost to our nation’s waters and to our health,” said Jennifer Peters, Clean Water’s National Water Campaigns Coordinator.
To read the full letter, please click here.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.