Several environmental and health groups are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to update its standards for coal ash waste.
San Francisco-based Earthjustice filed the suit on behalf of 11 other parties in the U.S. District Court of Columbia, intending to force the EPA to complete its rulemaking process and finalize public health safeguards against what Earthjustice characterizes as toxic coal ash. The agency has not updated its waste disposal and control standards for coal ash in more than 30 years, the group said in a news release.
Earthjustice said this is despite more evidence of leaking waste ponds, poisoned groundwater supplies and threats to public health. The groups said recent EPA data shows an additional 29 power plants in 16 states have contaminated groundwater near coal ash dump sites. Coal ash is a byproduct of coal-fired power plants.
Earthjustice is suing based on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which requires the EPA to ensure that safeguards are updated to address any waste issues.
“It is well past time the EPA acts on promises made years ago to protect the nation from coal ash contamination and life-threatening coal ash ponds,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans.
The plaintiffs identified in the suit are Appalachian Voices, Environmental Integrity Project, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, French Broad Riverkeeper, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Montana Environmental Information Center, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Prairie Rivers Network, Sierra Club and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.