Enviro Groups Look to ‘Rolling Stone’ and ‘GQ’ for Scientific Validation

            Anti-coal environmental groups are lobbying Congress attempting to silence mounting concerns over their proposals to regulate coal ash disposal as “hazardous waste.” In doing so, they are suggesting people review recent articles about coal ash in two interesting sources of scientific information – Rolling Stone and GQ magazines.

            In a March 25 e-mail asking people to contact their Congressional representatives, Lisa Evans, Senior Administrative Counsel for Earthjustice, referred to recent articles from those magazines. Rolling Stone and GQ have both published lengthy, colorful, and highly exaggerated, accounts of coal ash disposal-related environmental damage.

            While the magazines should be considered credible sources for information on fashion, popular culture, and modern music, their credentials for discussing coal ash management are, shall we say, less clear?  But the environmental groups don’t stop there.  They move on to present an economic analysis that is just as naďve.

            In a letter sent to members of Congress on March 24, six environmental groups claim: “A hybrid rule, which designates coal ash as hazardous when disposed in landfills, but non-hazardous when beneficially reused, is more likely to encourage additional recycling because as disposal costs rise, there will be greater incentive to recycle.”

            Let’s get this straight: Earthjustice, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Southern Environmental Law Center and Environmental Integrity Project all vehemently attack coal ash as being “toxic” and “hazardous,” but really support recycling more of it.  If that’s true, then why have none of those organizations published statements that coal ash can and should be recycled in safe and environmentally beneficial ways?

Dozens of actual users of coal ash have spoken out in opposition to the environmental groups’ “hybrid” idea, questioning how a material deemed “hazardous” when it’s in a landfill can be used in roads, homes, schools and elsewhere without raising all kinds of red flags. Opponents of the “hybrid” approach are not opposed to tougher coal ash disposal standards – they are only opposed to creating an unnecessary stigma that will interfere with the continued recycling of coal ash.

If environmental activist groups really want to do what’s best for the environment, they should take meaningful steps to support the safe and environmentally beneficial recycling of coal ash as the preferred alternative to disposal.  For now, however, it appears they will settle for spreading fear and misinformation.


Posted by: on: Mar 25, 2010 @ 10:29