Utilities Must Stop Dumping Coal Ash into Unlined Ponds, EPA Proposal Says


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, in a victory for communities around the country and a positive step toward clean water for all, EPA announced utilities in several states can no longer dump toxic coal ash waste into unlined ponds, proposing to deny utilities’ requests to continue the harmful and irresponsible practice.

The Obama administration established safeguards against coal ash, but these measures were ignored by the Trump administration and communities across the country have continued to suffer from the harmful effects of coal ash waste. A number of utilities requested permission to continue sending toxic waste into unlined ponds for years to come, arguing that their unlined ponds were as health-protective as lined ponds, but today, President Biden's EPA is taking action to protect our communities by proposing to deny these requests. EPA found evidence of potential releases of coal ash toxins at all six sites and concluded that the sites did not comply with other requirements of the rule.

If the proposed denials EPA announced today are finalized, utilities in Ariz., Mich., N.D., Pa., and Texas will be required to stop dumping coal ash into unlined ponds. A 30-day comment period will begin on February 8, 2023.

In response, Sierra Club Director of Federal Energy Campaigns Jonathan Levenshus released the following statement:

“We’ve seen time and time again that big polluters will cut corners on public health wherever they can, and these utilities' treatment of coal ash is no exception. Thankfully, President Biden’s EPA is standing up to polluters and saying ‘no.’ Now, these utilities will have to stop dumping enormous quantities of toxic ash into unlined, leaking, and structurally unsound ponds, as well as ponds located in the groundwater, floodplains and unstable areas–something they should have done long ago. But threats from coal ash remain across the country, and we urge EPA to take further action to protect our communities from this nasty byproduct of the fossil fuel industry.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.