Coal-fired power plants produce an dangerous waste product: coal ash. Two Georgia legislators are poised to introduce bills to limit how this waste product — often full of heavy metals and other contaminants — can be disposed of.
Coal ash is ugly stuff. Right now, Duke Energy is trying to settle a lawsuit with residents in North Carolina who are concerned their well water will be contaminated by nearby unlined coal ash pits.
In Tennessee, a utility company is being sued for coal ash storage that contaminated a nearby river in violation of the Clean Water Act.
In Georgia, a community has been fighting against plans by waste disposal company Republic Service to dispose of coal ash, also called coal combustion residuals or CCRs, in a landfill designed just for household waste. Recently, Republic Service extended a promise not to bury coal ash waste at the landfill near Jesup, Ga. through the end of this year.
Rep. Jeff Jones and Sen. William Ligon, both Republicans from the Brunswick, Ga area — near Jesup, and part of Georgia’s southern coastal region — are preparing legislation to make the power companies that produce coal ash liable for what happens with it, and also make it more difficult to bury CCRs.
The Florida Time-Union reports:
If four bills pass the Georgia General Assembly, Republic may find itself facing some new hurdles beyond obtaining a permit for its rail facility [in Jesup]. State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons, plans to introduce a trio of bills as early as next week and state Sen. William Ligon, R-St. Simons, is getting another ready. All would protect neighbors of coal ash disposal sites.
What little environmental protections that exist on the federal level are being rapidly rolled back by Congress and Donald Trump, with the administration issuing a slate of new statements backing the gutting of important regulations by Congress, in order to, “nullify unnecessary regulations imposed on America’s businesses.” Trump has even been willing to push forward with the building of the Dakota Access pipeline, in which he has a financial interest, despite opposition from indigenous peoples and their supporters at Standing Rock.
Trump’s pick of Scott Pruitt for the head of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, also does not bode well for protecting the environment and the people (us) that depend on it. This means that state actions will become even more important, as that may rapidly become the only form of protections left.