April 9, 2015
Just three months (and only 42 working days) after EPA signed its first-ever coal ash rule, Representative McKinley (R-WV) has introduced a bill that guts the new EPA rule and protects the polluters who finance his campaigns.
The bill will permanently give polluters a free pass to dump coal ash (the second largest industrial waste stream in the nation) without any accountability to the communities they are impacting.
Coal ash is a dangerous waste product of burning coal at power plants, containing arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury, and a range of harmful heavy metals and hazardous pollutants. When these pollutants enter drinking water, rivers, and streams, they harm human health, aquatic life, and the communities that depend on these water systems.
Illinois is home to 91 coal ash disposal ponds, many built in places that are unsuitable and dangerous for the disposal of toxic waste. Fifty-six ash ponds were built over groundwater recharge areas, 62 over shallow aquifers, and 9 were constructed over wetlands. The majority of these pits are unlined.
Community groups, representing hundreds of citizens in Illinois, have continued to urge Congress to address failing ash pits in the state. Five government entities in Vermilion County, including the County Board, have even passed resolutions calling for protective standards.
Nevertheless, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Chaired by Illinois’ own Rep. Shimkus, will vote on the new bill on April 15, and a full House vote is expected by the end of April.
The proposed “Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015” stands to remove several critical health and environmental protections.
The bad bill proposal will:
DELAY new health and safety protections – potentially for more than 10 years;
WEAKEN the rule’s mandate to close inactive (contaminated and abandoned) ponds;
ELIMINATE the rule’s guarantee of public access to information and public participation;
ELIMINATE the rule’s ban on storing and dumping coal ash in drinking water;
REMOVE the rule’s national standard for drinking water protection and cleanup of coal ash-contaminated sites;
REMOVE the rule’s national minimum standard for protection of health and the environment, allowing state programs to eliminate critical safety requirements;
PROHIBIT effective federal oversight of state programs; and
PROHIBIT EPA enforcement of state program requirements unless invited by a state
What can you do? Contact your representative and ask them to “VOTE NO on the McKinley coal ash bill”