Comparing Citizen Groups at Final Coal Ash Public Hearing

            Citizens for Recycling First participated in the final EPA coal ash public hearing, urging the agency to support actions that encourage recycling as a safe, environmentally preferable alternative to disposal. At the hearing in Knoxville, Tennessee, we also urged the EPA to consider the knowledge base of various citizens who have testified.

            The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has held eight day-long public hearings around the country to gather comments regarding its proposals for regulating coal ash disposal.  At the hearings in Washington, DC, Denver, Dallas, Charlotte, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Knoxville, Citizens for Recycling First offered testimony and distributed campaign buttons and brochures to hearing attendees. In Knoxville, a news conference was also organized for local media.

            A picture of our campaign button can be seen below, along with the text from our Knoxville hearing testimony. To download a copy of the brochure, click here:

            Here is what we had to say in Knoxville:

“My name is John Ward and I am Chairman of Citizens for Recycling First – an organization of more than 1,500 individuals who believe that the best solution for coal ash disposal problems is to quit throwing coal ash away.

“I have attended all eight of the EPA public hearings on proposed coal ash disposal regulations and would like to thank the EPA for providing such ample opportunity for citizens to speak out. In all of these hearings, one point of consensus stands out: Coal ash disposal regulations should be improved and incidents like the Kingston coal ash spill should never be allowed to happen again.

“Beyond that, the citizen comments have been divided.  One group of citizens has been vocal in calling for a Subtitle C hazardous waste designation for coal ash. This group, for the most part, has gained its knowledge of coal ash from large, well-funded, anti-coal environmental groups. These well-meaning citizens end up being only partially informed because those major environmental groups completely ignore options for safe and responsible recycling of coal ash. I challenge you to find even a mention of coal ash recycling in any of their publications.

“The other group of citizens you’ve heard from is comprised of people who have spent decades doing what’s right for the environment – creating safe and environmentally beneficial uses for coal ash that keep it out of landfills in the first place.  These people are recyclers, architects, engineers, concrete producers, farmers, and more.  Most of them are small businesspeople and all of them consider themselves environmentalists, too, because they are working every single day to conserve energy and materials and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  This group of citizens has been unanimous in stating that a Subtitle C hazardous designation for coal ash will wreck recycling of the material in this country and possibly worldwide.

“I urge you to remember these facts: Coal ash does not qualify as a hazardous waste based on its toxicity and its toxicity is similar to that of the materials it replaces when it is recycled.  The landfill engineering standards being proposed by EPA are essentially the same under both EPA's hazardous and non-hazardous approaches, so you're not giving the environment more protection with a hazardous label.  Finally, EPA's non-hazardous approach can be implemented years sooner -- getting greater protection for our environment now instead of later.

“It is absurd to state that people will want to use more of a material in their homes and communities if EPA considers it hazardous waste on the property of the people who produced it.  Hundreds of citizens who actually work to recycle coal ash have told you this at these hearings.  Please listen to the citizens who have working knowledge of this subject and remember that they care about Environmental Protection just as much as people who issue scary press releases and fund raising appeals that improperly label coal ash as toxic waste.”

Posted by: on: Oct 28, 2010 @ 11:15