House Blocks EPA Safeguards Against Coal Ash Dangers

NRDC: GOP Bill Subjects Public to Double Jeopardy

WASHINGTON (October 14, 2011) -- The House today passed another bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting our health. This latest assault would limit the agency’s ability to regulate toxic ash created by coal-burning power plants.

The following is a statement from Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, on H.R. 2273:

``Poisoning people once by burning coal is bad enough. But letting these power plants expose the public a second time to their toxic wastes is inexcusable. Double-jeopardy is not the American way. Only in the Tea Party’s universe can arsenic and other heavy metals escape the label of hazardous waste.’’

The contaminants in coal ash are known to cause bladder, kidney, liver, lung, prostate, and skin cancer. The House-passed bill would stop EPA from setting standards to require power plants to dispose of coal ash more safely at the 1,300 ash dumps around the country. Instead, the measure would treat such toxic wastes with less care than required for household trash, according to Slesinger.

This bill is the latest in a coordinated attempt led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to do the biddings of polluters. Just yesterday the House passed the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, H.R. 2250, which would block EPA safeguards for toxic air pollutants from incinerators and industrial boilers.

The chamber last week also approved the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, H.R. 2681, which would stop EPA from limiting air pollution from cement plants. Last month the House passed the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011, or TRAIN Act, H.R. 2401, which would permanently block rules designed to curb smog and soot pollution from power plants that crosses state lines, and to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.

For more on the coal ash legislation passed today and the incinerator-boiler bill, see NRDC President Frances Beinecke’s blog here:

For more information on the dangers of coal ash, see Scott Slesinger’s blog here:

For more information on the worst congressional attack on American health safeguards in history, see NRDC’s outline of the attacks on health here: