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Activist Groups Mislead People into Supporting ‘Hazardous’ Coal Ash Label

            Major anti-coal environmental groups have set a goal to generate 50,000 letters supporting a “hazardous” designation for coal ash. But they’re not telling people this action could badly damage recycling efforts while providing precious little increased protection for the environment.

            Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club are among the organizations that have created “letter generating” tools on their web sites. To get people to send letters to the Environmental Protection Agency using these tools, the organizations are spinning a web of half truths and misleading statements.  Here are some examples from Earthjustice’s web site along with, as Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the story:

            “Coal combustion waste, or coal ash, is a highly dangerous toxic material…” (In fact, it’s no more toxic than common materials it replaces when used in construction applications. See here for more info: http://www.recyclingfirst.org/blog/?post=10)

“…that should be regulated as a ‘special waste’ by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” (No explanation that ‘special waste’ is a new category EPA created to try to obscure the fact that they would be designating coal ash as “hazardous waste.” See here for more info: http://www.recyclingfirst.org/blog/?post=54)

“In your June 21 proposed federal regulation on coal ash, you offered two options for regulating this waste: designating it as a ‘special waste’ and setting strong, federally enforceable safeguards that protect public health and the environment or maintaining the status quo and regulating coal ash under the much weaker standard of ‘non-hazardous waste.’” (Again, no mention that “special” equals “hazardous.” Furthermore, the assertion that EPA’s “non-hazardous” proposal is “maintaining the status quo” is completely false.  The engineering standards proposed for ash disposal facilities are essentially the same under both of EPA’s proposals.  See here for more info: http://www.recyclingfirst.org/blog/?post=59)

All of the anti-coal environmental groups are urging their supporters to write EPA in favor of “federally enforceable” standards without revealing that the only way to do that under current law is to designate coal ash as “hazardous waste” – whether it qualifies as “hazardous” or not.  None of the anti-coal environmental groups ever mention that coal ash can be safely recycled with significant benefits, much less admit that labeling coal ash “hazardous when disposed” will interfere with that recycling.

            Citizens for Recycling First has created a “letter generating” tool of our own. Click on the “Action Alert” box on our home page to see the letter we suggest sending to the EPA – one that really will benefit the environment.

            Citizens for Recycling First does not oppose tougher disposal regulations for coal ash. In fact, tougher disposal regulations can be put in place faster if EPA’s non-hazardous approach is taken and an unnecessary hazardous waste stigma is avoided.

            Environmentalists concerned about the environment support recycling coal ash as a safe, environmentally preferable alternative to disposal.  Environmentalists who mislead people into supporting a position that does more harm than good must be interested in something else.


Posted by: on: Jul 30, 2010 @ 05:38