Federal Court Orders EPA to Move Forward on Coal Ash Regulations

Judge to offer more details in the next 30 days but takes first step towards federal enforceable safeguards

October 3, 2013

Washington, D.C. – A federal judge agreed with environmental and public health groupsthat the Environmental Protection Agency needs to set federal regulations for the safe and proper disposal of toxic coal ash. A copy of the judge’s order can be found here: http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/RCRA_NOI_Order.pdf

The groups filed the lawsuit in April 2012 challenging the EPA’s lack of federal regulations for America’s second largest industrial waste stream.

The order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia offered little details about the timing or substance of the EPA’s rulemaking but said it will issue a Memorandum Opinion within the next 30 days with more specifics. For now, the decision marks the first step towards federally enforceable safeguards, monitoring, and protections against coal ash. In its order, the court did deny one of the environmentalists claims regarding testing procedures for coal ash contamination, but more details are needed before the groups are fully able to understand the implications.

Coal ash has already contaminated more than 200 rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers with toxic pollutants like arsenic, lead, selenium and mercury. In 2008, a spill at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tennessee, dumped one billion gallons of coal ash over 300 acres, destroying homes and poisoning rivers. That spill led to the EPA proposing in May 2010 the first federal regulations for coal ash disposal. The agency never finalized that rulemaking, leaving open the opportunity for the power generating industry and some members of Congress to push for legislation that would prevent the EPA from ever setting federal regulations.

For the press release, click here.

For the order, click here.