Wednesday, January 27, 2010

N.C. GOP hearts hazardous coal ash

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 6:16 PM

In case you were under the delusion that N.C. Republicans in Congress don’t worship at the shrine of big business, please read this article from the Institute for Southern Studies. It’s by Sue Sturgis, a terrific investigative reporter in Durham, and in it she reports on GOP members of Congress who are actively opposing efforts to declare coal ash a hazardous substance. Or, as BlueNC puts it, “they oppose efforts to declare hazardous substances as hazardous.”

North Carolina members of Congress Reps. Sue Myrick, Patrick McHenry, Howard Coble and Howard Jones, as well as Sen. Richard Burr, all signed on to a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson opposing the reclassification of coal ash, since it would put an end to the recycling of the substance, and interfere with its “beneficial uses” such as filling in abandoned mines, structural fill, or fertilizing crops.

As Sturgis points out, the EPA has documented 24 proven cases of environmental damage and 43 cases of potential damage caused by coal ash, as it is presently disposed of. Three of those cases are in North Carolina, including at Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Station, which contaminated Belews Lake, in what experts call "one of the most extensive and prolonged cases of selenium poisoning of freshwater fish in the United States." In addition, there are at least two documented cases in NC of groundwater contamination from structural fills that used coal ash. But that’s OK, apparently, with Myrick, McHenry, Burr, Coble and Jones. After all, what’s a few dead fish, or dead North Carolinians for that matter, as long as coal and energy money keeps pouring in?

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