The Hoosier Environmental Council and five other groups are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over recent rollbacks to coal ash regulations. The plaintiffs say another recent court ruling could strengthen their case.
In July, the Environmental Protection Agency made a lot of revisions to a 2015 coal ash rule put in place by the Obama administration. Among other things, it pushed the back the deadline to close leaking and incorrectly sited coal ash ponds from April 2019 to October 2020. It also increased the level of some contaminants allowed in groundwater and let states waive groundwater monitoring in some situations.
“They’re arbitrary changes and that they’re being done in response to industry pressure and that they have no basis in science or the evidence of the harm that these coal ash impoundments pose,” says Tim Maloney, senior policy director with the Hoosier Environmental Council.
Coal ash can contain cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, boron, lead and mercury. Maloney says there's a danger of these chemicals coming into contact with drinking water.
This new lawsuit comes only a few months after a federal court found the Obama-era coal ash rule wasn’t protective of public health — and that was before the Trump administration’s rollbacks. Maloney says the ruling gives environmental organizations hope for their case.
“The court upheld the principle that agencies need to adopt rules that are based on the facts and the science and evidence in front of them and when they don’t do that that they need to be held accountable,” he says.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.