Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressmen Cohen, Rush, Sarbanes and Price Demand Answers on Coal Ash from the EPA

July 31, 2019
Press Release
Thirty-one Members of Congress send letter to force agency to deal with toxic ground water contamination

WASHINGTON – In light of yesterday’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposal to continue to weaken safeguards for coal ash piles, Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09), Bobby Rush (IL-01), John Sarbanes (MD-03), and David Price (NC-04)  wrote a letter to Andrew Wheeler, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed by 27 fellow Members of Congress. In the letter, the Members express concern regarding its failure to address pervasive water contamination due to unsafe coal ash disposal and demand answers as to why the EPA has begun to weaken several critical health and environmental protections for the disposal of coal ash, rather than protect the health of communities near the hundreds of contaminated sites identified by the industry’s own monitoring data. They urge the EPA to immediately refrain from efforts to roll back the Coal Ash Rule and instead make good on its promise to expeditiously complete new rulemakings that strengthen the rule, as required by the D.C. Circuit Court. 

The letter reads in part: 

“Electric utilities have been getting away with dangerous dumping of toxic coal ash for more than a century. Fortunately, in 2015, the EPA established the first-ever standards for the disposal of coal ash.  The federal Coal Ash Rule requires critical safeguards, including groundwater monitoring, the shutdown of leaking dumps and dumps in dangerous locations, the cleanup of contaminated water, and safe closure… 

“We urge the EPA to protect the health of communities near the hundreds of contaminated sites identified by the industry’s own monitoring data. Vulnerable communities are living with the devastating impacts of coal ash contamination every day, and we expect the EPA to live up to its statutory duty to protect human health and the environment from this toxic waste.” 

Earthjustice Senior Council and Coal Ash Expert Lisa Evans said, “Nearly all of the groundwater underneath coal plants contains toxic pollution. We need stronger protections for the health and safety of communities near the hundreds of contaminated sites across our country, yet Andrew Wheeler’s EPA is doing just the opposite with its dangerous agenda of dirty industry giveaways like its attempt to roll back the 2015 federal Coal Ash Rule. We thank Representatives Cohen, Rush, Sarbanes and Price and their colleagues for taking a stand against these poisonous policies.” 

See the entire letter here

The letter was also signed by Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Darren Soto (FL-09), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Donald Payne (NJ-10), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Sean Casten (IL-06), Danny Davis (IL-07), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Elijah Cummings (MD-07), Nannette Barragan (CA-44), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Donald Beyer (VA-08), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Andre Carson (IN-07), Bill Foster (IL-11), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE- at large), Tony Cardenas (CA-29) Barbara Lee (CA-13), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Jim Cooper (TN-05), Diana DeGette (CO-01) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia.