Keep Coal Ash Regulations In Place

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Tell the EPA to protect our communities from toxic waste by not allowing rollbacks of the coal ash rule.


Sign the petition and demand that the EPA stand by the regulations established in the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule.

Coal combustion residuals (CCRs), which are also known as coal ash, are the waste that's created by coal-fired power plants. The ash is a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. It is toxic, as it contains poisonous heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury [1]. Coal ash is known to be one of the largest types of industrial waste generated in the United States. With more than 400 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. producing CCRs at a rate of over 100 million tons per year, the need for safe disposal of coal ash is clear [2].

Yet when it comes to regulating the discharge of coal ash, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of rolling back the rules in place. In May 2017, utility industry lobbyists petitioned for large portions of the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule to be reconsidered, rules that were put in place to protect both humans and the environment from this form of toxic waste. The coal ash rule was established in 2015 after Duke Energy spilled nearly 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River near Eden, North Carolina [3].

The EPA Administrator at the time, Scott Pruitt, granted their petition, allowing for provisions of the rule to be reconsidered. Recently, the EPA proposed over a dozen provisions to current regulations [4], which would give states more independence with their disposal of coal ash, and would allow alternative performance standards for disposal units [5].

For many reasons, these changes cannot happen.

Further rollbacks of coal ash regulations would only pose greater health risks to many Americans, and would increasingly threaten wildlife and the environment. Coal ash has been linked to serious medical issues, which include, but are not limited to, acute risk of cancer, neurological impairment, heart damage, lung disease, kidney disease, reproductive issues, and birth defects [7]. When not properly contained and disposed of, the toxic metals from coal ash can leach into groundwater, polluting the water and poisoning fish and wildlife. There have been instances where poor containment structures have failed and contaminated local drinking water [6]. Coal ash dust particles, which are harmful to the lungs and other major organs if inhaled, can be blown toward communities and recreational areas. According to a risk assessment conducted by the EPA in 2010, living near a wet coal ash storage pond is more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day [8].

We must act in defense of our health and our environment. Tell the EPA to protect our communities from toxic waste. Sign the petition and demand the EPA keeps the established regulations of the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule in place!

MORE ON THIS ISSUE

[1] Press, A. (2017, May 12). Utilities group petitions EPA head to upend coal ash rule. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-utilities-group-petitions-epa-head-to-upend-coal-ash-rule-2017-5

[2] Coal Ash (Coal Combustion Residuals, or CCR). (2018, February 13). Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/coalash

[3] Hurst, D. (2017, February 02). February makes 3rd anniversary of Dan River coal ash spill. Retrieved March 05, 2018, from http://wncn.com/2017/02/02/february-makes-3rd-anniversary-of-dan-river-coal-ash-spill/

[4] Dennis, B., & Eilperin, J. (2018, March 02). EPA moves to overhaul Obama-era safeguards on coal ash waste. Retrieved March 05, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/01/epa-moves-to-overhaul-obama-era-safeguards-on-coal-ash-waste/?utm_term=.ce68cbdfe676

[5] Popovich, N., Albeck-ripka, L., & Pierre-louis, K. (2017, October 05). 67 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/05/climate/trump-environment-rules-reversed.html

[6] Rankin | AP, M. B. (2018, March 02). US utilities find water pollution at coal ash dumps. Retrieved March 05, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/us-utilities-find-water-pollution-at-coal-ash-dumps/2018/03/02/a095e9fe-1e79-11e8-98f5-ceecfa8741b6_story.html?utm_term=.85f69b02b3d6

[7] Berwyn, B. (2017, September 19). The EPA Rollback Continues With an Attack on the Coal Ash Rule. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://psmag.com/environment/the-epa-rollback-continues-with-an-attack-on-the-coal-ash-rule

[8] Environmental Protection Agency. (2010). Human and Ecological Risk Assessment of Coal Combustion Wastes. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from https://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/library/reports/epa-coal-combustion-waste-risk-assessment.pdf

[9] EPA to Reconsider Certain Coal Ash Rule Provisions. (2017, September 14). Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-reconsider-certain-coal-ash-rule-provisions

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The Petition:

Dear Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler,

Like many Americans, I am deeply concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed plan to change its regulations on the disposal of coal ash, which were put in place by the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule.

Coal ash is known to be one of the largest types of industrial waste generated in the United States. It is toxic, as it contains poisonous heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury. More than 400 coal-fired power plants produce coal ash at a rate of over 100 million tons per year in the United States.

Coal ash has been linked to serious medical issues that include, but are not limited to, acute risk of cancer, neurological impairment, heart damage, lung disease, kidney disease, reproductive issues, and birth defects. When not properly contained and disposed of, the toxic metals from coal ash can leach into groundwater, polluting our water and poisoning fish and wildlife. It has caused water contamination problems across the country. The coal ash rule was established in 2015 after Duke Energy spilled nearly 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River near Eden, North Carolina.

When inhaled, coal ash dust particles are harmful to human health. According to a risk assessment conducted by the EPA in 2010, living near a wet coal ash storage pond is more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence indicating the harmful effects of coal ash on human health, wildlife, and the environment, the EPA is proposing rollbacks to the rules in place at the behest of utility industry lobbyists. The proposed changes include over a dozen provisions to current regulations, and allow alternative performance standards for coal ash disposal units.

When considering the risks posed to human health and the environment, the approval of these changes is unethical and unacceptable, and they simply cannot happen.

I urge you to not move forward with the proposed rollbacks of the current coal ash regulations. Please do the right thing and protect our communities by maintaining the regulations originally put in place by the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule.

Because, I ask you, at what price is the value of human and environmental life?

Sincerely,

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Signatures: