Ash under fire

Nothing can quite sound the alarm for federal regulations on an unregulated practice the way 1.1 billion gallons of runaway coal fly ash slurry can.

The Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fossil Plant spill last December was the largest coal fly ash release in U.S. history. It has now prompted 109 environmental groups and some senators to seek federal standards for safe disposal of coal combustion waste, which currently has no federal standards. A letter dated March 2 from small and large groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Greenpeace and Environmental Defense Fund, was sent to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson urging her to adopt standards as soon as possible. “EPA’s failure to act to prevent the hazards documented extensively in the Agency’s own studies is difficult to understand,” the letter stated. “EPA has essentially done nothing to move toward regulation of the waste since the publication of a Notice of Availability in August 2007. We hope that under your leadership, the Agency will put an end to this waiting game, and we are ready to do our part.” Read the full letter at

Further, on March 3, Nevada Sens. Barbara Boxer and Thomas Carpet introduced Senate Bill 64, which calls on the EPA to conduct immediate reviews and inspections of all coal-ash impoundments nationwide and to propose new regulations regarding the handling and disposal of coal ash.