EPA Finally Agrees to Regulate Coal Ash
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed for the first time to regulate the disposal of coal ash, but only because environmentalists and others sued the agency to finally take action.
To settle a lawsuit (pdf) brought by Earthjustice on behalf of multiple groups, including Appalachian Voices, Sierra Club, and 10 other organizations, the EPA announced it would establish the first-ever federal regulations for coal-ash disposal by December 19.
It did not say what the new rules would contain.
The decision follows a ruling in October by a federal court in Washington, DC, that said the EPA was bound by law to create the waste regulations, which it started to do years ago but never finished.
In 2008, a mammoth spill in Kingston, Tennessee, released more than a billion gallons of coal ash, damaging or destroying two dozen homes and 300 acres of riverfront property.
Following this disaster, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson promised to establish new federal regulations for coal ash. The agency drafted the rules and held several public hearings by 2010. But nothing more followed until the plaintiffs took the agency to court. During that period of delay, coal ash contamination occurred at more than 200 sites across the country, amounting to 136 million tons of industrial waste per year.
One group participating in the case, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), said the new rules were long overdue.
“It’s really good news we’ll have a final rule by the end of this year after waiting for so long for action from EPA,” Lisa Widawsky-Hallowell of EIP told the Center for Public Integrity.
“The patchwork of state regulations has not done enough to protect the environment or human health,” she added. “Now, we need EPA to issue a final rule that protects the communities.”
To Learn More:
EPA Agrees To Deadline For First-Ever US Coal Ash Regulations (Appalachian Voices)
EPA to Regulate Coal Ash Amid Court Settlement (by Kristen Lombardi, Center for Public Integrity)
Appalachian Voices v. Gina McCarthy (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia) (pdf)
Coal Combustion Residuals - Proposed Rule (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Judge Tries to Force EPA to Regulate Coal Ash (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
Exasperated by EPA Inaction, Residents near Coal Ash Dumps File Lawsuits (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
EPA Sued over Refusal to Regulate Coal Ash (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
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