Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency rolled back Obama-era regulations that had protected drinking water from being contaminated with coal ash, the toxic byproduct of burning coal. Although the coal industry is heralding it as a win, environmentalists say the new rule poses a serious health risk.
“This administration is doing everything it can to give coal a free ride, including dismantling our bare minimum protections,” Larissa Liebmann, staff attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance, said in a statement.
For decades, the toxic product was dumped into unlined ponds that have the potential to leak and contaminate the drinking water in nearby communities. It was also discarded into landfills, where the wind could blow the ash into the air and further spread the toxic arsenic and mercury it contains. Those who live near disposal sites are at increased risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and, for children, brain damage.