We Energy’s Oak Creek coal-fired power plant on the shores of Lake Michigan suffered a bluff collapse that has now spilled massive, as yet undetermined, amounts of toxic coal ash into the lake. There is no known established plan for containment or clean-up, and the company says it has deployed a line of boom and has hired a contractor to plan and carry out the clean-up.
Last week, the House of Representatives voted to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash spills, and the coal industry is now actively promoting the claim that toxic coal ash is in fact not harmful to the environment or to human health. As the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads, and the American people are increasingly demanding comprehensive economic, banking and political-process reform, there is mounting criticism that the Congress is not dealing with the pressing needs of the historical moment.
The administration of George W. Bush took a literalist approach to enforcement of any and all environmental regulations. If a specific activity was not named and identified comprehensively in laws providing for environmental regulation, their position was that there was effectively no such regulation to be enforced. They gave the natural gas drilling industry a blanket waiver for all activities related to hydraulic fracturing, without any legal authority to do so.
Their waiver was based on two false claims: first, that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) was a new procedure not contemplated in the Clean Water Act or other environmental and public health regulatory laws; second, that fracking used water, and so it could not pose a threat of contamination. They required no release of information regarding the hundreds of toxic chemicals, some thought to be radioactive, that are used and/or released into groundwater, in the process.
Rule Will Reduce Power Plant Pollution Linked to Thousands of Premature Deaths and Serious Health Threats to Millions of Americans
(Washington, D.C. – July 7, 2011) Millions of Americans will be protected from invading smokestack pollution under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that was announced today, according to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
EDF praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s landmark clean air standards, which will provide longer and healthier lives for 240 million people across the eastern half of the U.S. who are afflicted by the power plant pollution that pours across their borders.