Washington (July 18, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement in response to the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finalized rule to overhaul requirements for handling the toxic waste produced by burning coal, also known as coal ash. EPA’s finalized coal ash rule will extend the existence of dangerous coal ash ponds through the year 2020, allow states to suspend groundwater monitoring, and permit states to ignore important third-party certifications and safety standards, as well.
“It is clear that former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler intends to carry the dirty mantle of leadership at the EPA,” said Senator Markey. “Coal ash is a widespread and dangerous problem, but instead of safeguarding Americans from its devastating effects, the EPA is neglecting its duty. Without monitoring or enforcement, polluters will continue to dump coal ash waste in unlined pits and ponds that are prone to fail.”
Coal ash contains harmful toxins such as mercury, cobalt, lithium, and lead and exposure to these substances is known to cause serious health problems, including cancer and birth defects. It is stored at more than 400 coal-fired power plants across the country and has contaminated multiple waterways, including two high-profile spills in Tennessee and North Carolina.