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Coal ash disposal regulations are needed

Aug. 18, 2010

Public Forum:

More than 150 million tons of toxic ash are generated each year by burning coal for electricity. Coal ash is full of harmful toxins like arsenic, lead and mercury. People living near the coal ash sites have a staggering 1-in-50 risk of cancer. And yet there are no federal safeguards for coal ash storage sites. This is scary news, considering there are several coal ash storage sites in Oak Creek and Franklin.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just released new proposed rules to ensure the safe disposal of coal ash. As expected, the coal industry is fighting to maintain the status quo on coal ash, backing a proposal that ensures coal ash is treated less responsibly than household trash.

This is clear: Coal must be cleaned up, and the industry will not clean itself. EPA should choose the federally enforceable safeguards to hold coal accountable and speed the transition to a clean energy economy. Residents across the U.S. want the coal industry to clean up and not expose them to health hazards like air pollution and coal ash.

The EPA will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Sept. 16, at the Hilton Chicago to gather feedback on the new rules. Contact the Sierra Club, (414) 453-3127, if you would like to join a busload of volunteers attending the hearing.

Rosemary Wehnes

Sierra Club associate representative

Wauwatosa

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