This coming Sunday, Dec. 22, marks five years since the Kingston Coal Plant’s ash dam in Tennessee ruptured, sending more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge into homes, onto farmland, and into the Emory and Clinch Rivers in Roane County - one of the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Five years later, we're still waiting - and pushing - for the Environmental Protection Agency to put in place long-overdue protections to prevent more coal ash disasters.
We saw the photos of huge "ash-bergs" in the rivers, of homes decked out with Christmas wreaths buried in toxic coal ash up to their eaves, and of trees and farmland covered in disgusting, dangerous sludge.
In the disaster, Americans saw first-hand the consequences of allowing state regulators that lack the will and ability to protect communities, to handle the complex issue of ensuring coal ash pollution is kept in check. We thought this tragedy would be the final straw and that national safeguards to protect Americans from this coal ash would surely follow.
Sadly, we were mistaken. The coal industry has done everything in its power to block long-overdue safeguards that could prevent another Kingston from happening somewhere else. Since the Kingston spill, the coal industry has lobbied hard to block the Environmental Protection Agency from establishing strong new protections. Because, for the polluters, all that matters is keeping operating costs as low as possible.