Three Coal Ash Neighbors Tell Regulators to Quit Stalling

Three "victims" of coal ash met with the White House’s regulatory office April 12 to call on Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, to stop blocking a pending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that would protect communities from the "toxic material," according toa  press release from Ohio Citizen Action.

Elisa Young of Meigs County, Ohio; Tim Tanksley of Bokoshe, Okla.; and John Wathen of Uniontown, Ala.; urged Sunstein to let EPA issue its regulation on coal ash, pending at OIRA since Oct. 16, 2009. They pressed for federal regulation of coal ash as hazardous waste and to give them more of a voice in the process. They said they feel intimidated by the coal industry and that they suspect the rule will be settled by the time it’s announced.

According to the press release, OIRA staff members insisted that the process is not over, but gave no indication of what is in the coal ash rule or when it might be released for public comment. They "downplayed the fact that their 'review' has dragged out for over 170 days, and that the contents of the pending rule remain secret despite the Obama administration’s promises of open government," the release stated.

“When there is a public health hazard like this, it is the government’s job to help us out,” said Tanksley, who lives near the “Making Money Having Fun” company’s coal ash dump, which has polluted the Arkansas River and poses health threats for area residents and livestock, the release said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with politics at this point; it is about our safety, and the safety of our children.”

“We’re calling for enforcement of the law and good business decisions,” added Harlan Hentges, an attorney from Oklahoma who accompanied the residents.

Last October, EPA proposed new rules to regulate coal ash disposal, but the new protections have been stalled for over five months.

Ohio Citizen Action is 80,000 Ohioans who have joined together to prevent pollution. Non-profit and non-partisan, the group was founded in 1975.

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