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In North Carolina, a river poisoned with arsenic. In Nevada, toxic clouds over a desert town. In West Virginia, foul-smelling waste bubbling from the ground.
We once thought these problems were unrelated, but a disaster in Tennessee just days before Christmas in 2008 became a stark wake-up call on the problems of coal ash.
But in 2008, when that dam broke, something changed. Nearly half a million people asked the EPA for stronger protections. Thousands of citizens attended public meetings. Local and national environmental and public health groups got involved. We brought the coal industry face to face with the people they were hurting. Those people are America, and America spoke with one voice: "Clean up coal ash."
Yet, five years later there are still no federal protections. Some members of Congress even want to pass a bill to prevent the EPA from ever regulating coal ash. They want to ignore the disaster in Tennessee. We can’t let polluter profits triumph over public health.