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As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempts to end decades of delay in regulating coal ash disposal, the coal-fired power industry is mounting a major lobbying effort targeting the White House to weaken this much-needed rule even before it is released for public comment.

Some see this as the first real test for the Obama administration’s commitment to health and safety.  That is why we’re urging all Americans to take part in our Coal Ash Day of Action -- we hope to generate thousands of emails and phone calls to let the Obama administration know that coal ash is hazardous and federal regulations are needed immediately.

ACT NOW: Contact the Obama administration today!  Simply email the White House or call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414.

Here are some useful points to make:

  • Improperly managed, coal ash can pollute water tables, rivers and streams with arsenic, lead and other toxic chemicals.
  • The EPA wants to treat coal ash as the hazardous waste that it is but the coal industry and utilities that rely on coal have besieged the White House with lobbyists intent on derailing the protections we need.
  • The Obama administration has pledged to put public health above industry pressure.  We expect the White House to live up to its promise by allowing EPA to release strong coal ash regulations without further delay!

What is coal ash waste?

Coal-fired power plants in the U.S. produce over 130 million tons of coal ash annually, and most states allow this waste – which is contaminated with toxics such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury – to be dumped in landfills and ponds that lack proper environmental safeguards.  Toxics that leach from coal ash contaminate surface and groundwater – including drinking water supplies – and therefore threaten humans and wildlife.

Why should we be concerned?

About a year ago in Tennessee, a ruptured storage pond at a power plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority poured over a billion gallons of coal ash sludge into the river and downstream community.  There are nearly 600 similar coal ash disposal sites throughout the nation – at least 71 have suffered environmental damage, and the total number is likely higher because many sites remain unmonitored.  Under current rules, this industrial waste is managed less carefully than household garbage!

What’s happening now?

The EPA is preparing to issue the first federal regulations of coal ash disposal, but the coal and utility industries are attempting to block or undermine national disposal standards that would protect water supplies and communities from coal ash.  That’s right: While communities across the country have to face the health risks caused by polluting coal ash, the industry is lobbying the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to delay a new EPA coal ash disposal rule in the hopes of weakening its provisions.  In fact, polluters have already met with OMB and other White House officials nearly two dozen times in advance of the agency’s proposed coal ash rules!

What do we want?

At long last America needs strong, federally enforceable regulation of coal ash to ensure that this waste is disposed only in landfills equipped with proper pollution control and monitoring systems.  And the public has the right to make its voice heard before the industry gets the chance to water down EPA’s rule.  The time has come for citizens to tell the Obama administration that we want and support hazardous waste rules that protect our health and environment from coal ash.

What can you do?

We want President Obama to uphold his promise of allowing science to dictate policy -- that means EPA must be allowed to do its job to protect our water from the irresponsible dumping of coal ash (dumping that has been allowed by states for decades).  Please take a moment to contact the White House by email or phone: 202-456-1414.  Tell President Obama that coal ash is a threat to you and your neighborhood and that the new coal ash rule should be published without further delay or industry interference.  For the sake of our health, our environment and the safety of countless communities across the country, we cannot afford to let the coal industry win this fight.

Thanks for taking action today!

Originally posted to rperks on Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 12:13 PM PST.

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