Washington, D.C. — One hundred and forty three people who live near coal ash dumps in 19 states sent a letter today (March 17, 2015) to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy to complain that they are being excluded from a hearing tomorrow on a bill that would weaken federal coal ash regulations.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia, would water down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s coal ash pollution control rule, issued in December, by eliminating a requirement for electric utilities to publicly disclose information when their coal ash dumps leak and contaminate local drinking water supplies.
The legislation would also weaken a requirement to close old and leaky coal ash waste ponds, among other problems.
Below is a copy of the letter sent to the House subcommittee by the 143 citizens who are being denied a right to voice their concerns during the hearing, which will be dominated by the coal industry and its supporters.
March 17, 2015
To: The Honorable John Shimkus, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy
The Honorable Paul Tonko, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy
Dear Chairman Shimkus and Ranking Member Tonko:
We understand that your Committee may be considering a bill to revise or replace the ash disposal regulations recently announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We are writing to respectfully request that your Committee schedule a hearing that will give communities affected by coal ash pollution the opportunity to talk about the kind of safeguards we need before you move forward with any legislation.
EPA’s final rule was less than we had hoped for, but provides at least some of the standards that we are now counting on. We cannot afford to lose that certainty, or take even more time getting these protections in place. Our families and our neighbors are the ones exposed to wind-blown fly ash, ground water contamination, the pollution of our creeks and wetlands, and spills that close waterways, damage property, and threaten loss of life. Our homes have lost value in some cases, which means the tax base that supports our schools and roads is also at risk. Our townships cannot afford to be stuck with leaking dumpsites or pay the bill for cleaning them up.
We can tell you what it is like trying to get our state agencies to respond to our requests for help. All of us want the polluters who created this problem to clean it up, and to start now. You have already heard presentations from power companies and their lobbyists, state agencies and EPA, and several environmental organizations. We are asking now that you make time for the people who have the most to lose if the new EPA rule is slowed down or made weaker. And we think what we have to share is worth a public hearing, which doesn’t seem like much to ask.
Thank you for considering our request, and we look forward to your reply.
Greene Township Board of Supervisors, on behalf of their constituents Greene Township, Beaver County PA P.O. Box 181 Hookstown, PA 15050
Teresa M. de Lima 1780 Willow Run Fairbanks, AK 99709
Barbara H. Warren, MD, MPH Arizona Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility 3653 N Prince Village Place Tucson, AZ 85719-2028
(….And 140 other co-signers. For a complete list, click here.)