The EPA has dragged its feet long enough, say environmental groups who filed a lawsuit yesterday to force the agency to finalize new regulations for the containment and disposal of coal ash—the toxic solid waste from coal plants that most people had never heard of before the TVA spill in Tennessee in December 2008.
After that disaster, the EPA pledged new regulations of the largely-unregulated waste stream, but has been sitting on two proposals for two years now, and the problems that led to TVA are still rampant nationwide.
With no apparent sign of action to come, Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Integrity Project and other groups decided to sue the EPA to force the agency to finish the rulemaking process and to finalize public health safeguards. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Earthjustice explains, requires the EPA to ensure safeguards are updated regularly to address threats posed by wastes—but the agency has never revised the safeguards to ensure that they address coal ash.
“The numbers of coal ash ponds and landfills that are contaminating water supplies continues to grow, yet nearby communities still do not have effective federal protection,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans. “It is well past time the EPA acts on promises made years ago to protect the nation from coal ash contamination and life-threatening coal ash ponds.”