Shadowy Environmentalists Step Up Hypocritical Attack on Recycling

           Environmental activists who take credit for shutting down the Environmental Protection Agency’s Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2) program have launched a new round of attacks – this one absurdly claiming that EPA continues to promote coal ash recycling.  (Anyone actually associated with coal ash recycling knows that the Agency has done nothing helpful in more than two years.)

            Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) claimed in a March 28, 2011, news release that EPA “continues to push reuse of coal ash.”  According to PEER: “EPA's actions are particularly troubling in light of a report last week by its own Office of Inspector General (IG) that EPA has not done any risk assessments or safety precautions for the 60 million tons of combustion wastes annually entering the American marketplace.”

            Later in the news release, PEER takes credit for stimulating the Inspector General activities that led to EPA’s abrupt, unilateral suspension of the C2P2 program in May, 2010.  The Inspector General report – which cost taxpayers over three-quarters of a million dollars – did not conclude that coal ash recycling is unsafe.  It merely recommended that EPA should conduct formal risk assessments of ash uses before endorsing them.  For more information on the IG report, click here:

            PEER’s continuing attacks on coal ash are hypocritical on many levels. For instance:

 ·         PEER purports to expose “behind the scenes” conduct with the C2P2 program, showing records of meetings between EPA officials and coal ash recycling industry representatives.  This ignores the fact that there was nothing secret about the C2P2 program and industry participants, including several other federal government agencies, conspicuously advertised their participation.  In contrast, PEER does not reveal how many behind the scenes meetings it has had with EPA officials. In fact, PEER describes its mission this way: “PEER allows public servants to work as ‘anonymous activists’ so that agencies must confront the message, rather than the messenger.”  In other words, it’s not OK for coal ash recyclers to meet openly with a federal agency that is regulating them out of business, but it is OK for employees of that federal agency to work anonymously to attack those same recyclers.

·         PEER claims that EPA is still promoting coal ash recycling because a single internal email from May 2010 noted EPA’s simple affiliation with several other cooperative programs that promote use of recycled industrial materials.  The other recycled materials promoted by those programs include foundry sand, scrap tires, iron and steel slags, silica fume, pulp and paper byproducts, and construction and demolition debris.  The toxicity characteristics of all of those materials are similar to or worse than the characteristics of coal ash.  So why isn’t PEER actively lobbying against them, as well?

 ·         PEER’s greatest hypocrisy, however, is purporting to care about the environment.  The group opposes all forms of coal ash recycling – completely ignoring the significant environmental benefits associated with reduced landfill utilization (approx. 60 million tons per year), conservation of natural resources, reduced energy use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions (approx. 12 million tons per year), and longer-lasting products.

 Give PEER credit for a sense of humor, though. A $15 contribution on their web site will get you a pair of “Undercover Activist” boxer shorts. According to the web site: “PEER boxer shorts are the apparel undercover activists can wear in the office!”  It appears that the only way to figure out what’s really going on in this Administration that has pledged “scientific integrity” and “transparency” is to catch them with their pants down.

Posted by: on: Mar 28, 2011 @ 07:39