Wheeler lives up to his Big Coal reputation by rolling back the EPA's coal ash rules

Jacquelyn Martin/AP via Shutterstock

Whelp, we gave him a shot. But for his first major decision as acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler opted to roll back safety requirements for the handling of coal ash—the toxic byproduct of burning coal. The revised standards allow existing storage ponds (which tend to leak and collapse) to stay put until October 2020, including high-risk ones near wetlands and areas of potential seismic activity. The rule change will save industry money, but it comes with huge risks, such as respiratory illnesses and destroyed properties for those Americans living near ash ponds, contaminated groundwater supplies, and poisoned wildlife. Shocker: Murray Energy, a mining corporation and Wheeler’s former employer, pushed for weaker coal ash rules.

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