Coal ash legislation introduced in House
Following last month's major coal-ash spill in Harriman, Tennesse, a West Virginia lawmaker has introduced legislation to set federal standards for storing the toxic waste produced by burning coal.
(Page 2 of 2)
But that could change, even without Rahall's bill. The Associated Press reports that, during her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Lisa Jackson, Obama's pick for EPA chief, said that she would immediately assess the hundreds of coal-ash disposal sites to determine if her agency needs to issue regulations.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Pressure to regulate coal waste is also coming from ordinary citizens. On Friday, according to a press release emailed by the PR firm Kelley Campaigns, Harriman residents Sarah McCoin and Tom Gizzard arrived on Capitol Hill with mason jars containing some of the sludge that had befouled their town. The press release notes that they have met with Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. Lincoln Davis, and five members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff.
The pair also handed out black hats, reading "Filthy Coal," a play on the white "Clean Coal" caps – handed out by coal industry representatives – that were ubiquitous at events during the 2008 presidental campaign. The two said that there is no such thing as clean coal.
Also calling for regulation is Erin Brockovitch, the legal clerk who famously compiled evidence that a Pacific Electric & Gas facility had sickened nearby residents. Writing in the Huffington Post, a liberal news and opinion website, Ms. Brockovitch writes:
The infrastructure handling coal fly ash in the U.S. is old and needs to be replaced. Can we worry about the cost of replacing the old with the new when health and safety and the environment depends on it? We can see that contamination moves through air, land and water. Can we sit back and wait for communities to get sick when we can prevent it now?
Science usually lags behind the law. But in this case, law lags behind science because coal fly ash handling is not regulated as it should be. And we have a pretty good grasp on the fact that Coal Fly Ash is not healthy.