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The EPA wants to roll back water protections — again.
In 2015, the Obama-era administration enacted the Coal Ash Rule, which provided water protections against toxic waste from coal-fired power plants. Now, the current EPA administration is hoping to diminish those protections, and give the plants more time and power to dump waste continually — all of which will impact the surrounding areas’ groundwater.
Environmental justice leaders say these rollbacks would worsen damage that has been done for years.
“Instead of having a single strong national set of public health protections for this polluting industry, we are going to be left with federal regulations that are riddled with loopholes,” Tom Cmar, an attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice, told NPR.
Protecting our water supplies from harmful pollution is essential. That is why I urge the EPA to stop its proposed rollbacks the 2015 Coal Ash Rule. Protecting the health of Latinos and all Americans is one of the responsibilities of the EPA, and therefore environmental regulation should be strengthened not diminished. If this rule were to pass, it would more dumping of toxic coal ash into our waters. It also continues the struggle so many Americans face every day — harmful pollution. Administrator Wheeler and EPA officials mustn’t overlook the wellness of the people they are charged to serve.
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While the Trump administration’s rollbacks would not affect all aspects of the 2015 rule, such as reporting certain information, they say it is their view that these rollbacks are for the good of business and the environment. is not
“These proposed revisions support the Trump administration’s commitment to responsible, reasonable regulations by taking a commonsense [sic] approach, which also protects public health and the environment,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.
Though environmental health experts tend not to agree. Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, testified to the EPA on Oct. 2 about his recent study that found coal ash spreading raises the risk of toxic exposure.
“These findings add to more than a decade’s worth of hard scientific evidence, by my lab and many others, documenting coal ash’s harmful environmental and human health impacts,” Vengosh said. “The amendments proposed by the EPA would allow the ‘beneficial’ placement of unlimited quantities of coal ash in the environment, potentially near drinking water wells, rivers, and lakes, without any restrictions or safeguards.”
Without dedicated action, public waters could continue to face the kinds of pollution that put Latinos and all Americans at risk. Speak up today to urge federal protections!
“The rule announced today puts millions of people’s drinking water in jeopardy,” Mustafa Santiago Ali, who was the director of the EPA’s office of environmental justice under the Obama administration, told the New York Times. “When tragedy strikes from a flood, hurricane, or a breach from an unlined coal ash pit or pond, everyday citizens are left with contaminated water.”