Under President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed ending regulations on arsenic-laden waste products from coal-fired power plants, according to The Hill.
On Wednesday, the EPA proposed to eliminate restrictions from 2015 that limited coal ash, the byproduct of burning coal, which is responsible for contaminating water with arsenic and has also been linked with some forms of cancer.
“I can say without hesitation that this is an extremely dangerous proposal that will do lasting harm to communities near coal ash reuse sites and coal ash waste piles,” Lisa Evans, senior counsel with Earthjustice, said.
The proposal would allow plants to use as much coal ash as they want but would require them to demonstrate that the project won’t cause harm if in close proximity to water features, such as groundwater or wetlands.
“Today the Agency is proposing sensible changes that will improve the coal ash regulations and continue to encourage appropriate beneficial use,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced. “These proposed changes will further responsible management of coal ash while protecting human health and the environment.”
Yet, environmentalists see the proposal as a submission to the industry.
“Despite compelling and damning scientific evidence highlighting the harm to groundwater from coal ash, and court victories by community groups requiring the EPA to strengthen the 2015 rule, Wheeler is giving this gift to his former employers at the cost of public health,” Earthjustice and the Sierra Club said in response. “It is a disgrace to everything the EPA stands for, and we will do everything in our power to stop it.”