Enviro Group Pans House Bill Concerning Coal Ash Oversight

Jul 26, 2013

A map detailing coal ash storage sites across the southeast.
Credit courtesy: southeastcoalash.org

WASHINGTON (AP/WMOT) — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation giving states greater control over the management of coal ash.

Focus on coal ash increased after a 2008 leak in East Tennessee contaminated nearby waterways and required a massive cleanup.

The ash is a byproduct of coal combustion that poses environmental threats in landfills but is also commonly recycled for use in cement, concrete and other products.

Some Democrats see the measure as yet another attempt by Republicans to undermine the EPA. But the bill passed with bipartisan support.

Frank Holleman is a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. He says giving the states oversight is a bad move.

“The states have not been firm, or strong in taking action even when the lagoons are clearly operated illegally. We’ve had to force states to take action across our region.”

Holleman says the states are too vulnerable to political pressure from plant operators.

He hopes the Senate will reject the proposal.