Tuesday 22 May 2018

Fossil Fuels (72)

In 2015, Waterkeepers Chesapeake joined more than a half-million comments from people supporting the safeguards that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now seeking to remove in its proposed rule. The 2015 coal ash regulations were imposed after lengthy negotiations with utilities, other industries and environmentalists. Relaxing those common sense, science-based rules now – even as utilities are in the process of reporting the extent of coal-ash contamination and devising plans to address it – would mean the lessons learned from the coal ash accidents in Tennessee and North Carolina are being ignored. The proposed rule (‘remand rule’) would once again put our water and public health at risk – with more than 1.5 million children living near coal ash storage sites and seventy percent of all coal ash impoundments disproportionately impacting low-income communities – this is a risk that the EPA should be unwilling to take. Background Coal-fired power plants in the United States burn more than 800 million tons of coal every year, producing more than 110 million tons of solid waste in the form of fly ash, bottom ash, scrubber sludge and boiler slag—commonly known as coal ash. Hazardous chemicals present in coal are concentrated in the ash when coal is burned. Consequently, coal ash contains a toxic brew of carcinogens, neurotoxins, and poisons—including arsenic, boron, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, lithium, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, thallium, and radioactive substances. These toxics raise the risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and can inflict permanent brain damage on children.…
Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted federal protections against the dangers posed by toxic coal ash. That rule requires closure of ash dumps in dangerous locations (including within five feet of groundwater), regular inspection of coal ash ponds, monitoring of groundwater near coal ash sites, closure of leaking ponds, cleanup when contamination is found, safe closure of dumps, and public posting of monitoring and inspection results. Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to weaken or eliminate the federal safeguards and protections against the dangers posed by coal ash. EPA is holding one public hearing on April 24th. These changes put the health and well-being of communities on the Potomac, James, Susquehanna, Patuxent and many other rivers at risk! Join your local Waterkeepers at the public hearing in Arlington on April 24th: CLICK HERE to register to speak. When: Tuesday, April 24 (9AM–12PM; 1–4PM; 5–8PM) Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 300 S Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202 If you cannot attend, submit your written comments by Monday, April 30th -- CLICK HERE  EPA has proposed to: Allow operators of coal ash ponds and landfills to write their own standards Make cleanup of contamination discretionary (i.e., let polluters do nothing) Eliminate the requirement that leaking ponds install liners or close Give polluters extra time to close ponds and landfills located in unsafe areas and eliminate the strict location prohibitions entirely Allow political appointees, instead of professional engineers, to decide if a cleanup is adequate or even required. Every year, more than 110…
Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Potomac Riverkeeper Network and other partners submitted comments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Environmental Assessment (EA) of TransCanada’s proposed fracked gas pipeline under the Potomac River. Our comments call out the agency for a variety of failures of analysis, including outdated methodologies, reliance on inaccurate or unsupported facts, and unwarranted conclusions. For over a year, we have joined our No Potomac Pipeline coalition partners in voicing our concerns to State and Federal authorities over the serious threats this pipeline has on the Potomac River, the drinking water for 6 million people. There has been a pattern of reluctance from those authorities to hear our concerns and to fully assess this pipeline project in its entirety. Comments filed are extensive and detailed, but some of the highlights are: FERC failed to properly evaluate the serious risk and potential impacts on public health and safety posed by horizontal directional drilling under the Potomac River and C & O Canal The EA, by using methodologies which are outdated or based on inaccurate facts, fail to adequately consider impacts on climate change The EA does not adequately discuss all reasonable alternatives, including an option that would attach the pipeline to a bridge over the Potomac instead of drilling underneath the river. It is unfortunate that FERC continues to disregard the threats to our environment from pipeline companies like TransCanada, rather than assess the true costs and recognize the impacts to our citizens and neighbors. Our comments show that FERC has failed its…