Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Alison Flowers, Sierra Club,, 303-246-6297
Thomas Pearce, Sierra Club,, 502-489-4700

Press Release

Louisville Residents on New EPA Coal Ash Protections

Community members say rule doesn’t go far enough

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the first-ever federal coal ash rules aimed at protecting thousands of communities from the 140 million tons of ash pollution produced annually by America’s coal plants. Coal ash, the toxic by-product that is left over after coal is burned, contains toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, selenium and other health threatening substances. The public health hazards and environmental threats to nearby communities from unsafe coal ash storage have been documented for decades, including increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, birth defects, asthma, and other illnesses.

For years in Louisville communities, residents near the Cane Run coal plant organized against the toxic coal ash blowing into their communities, and others near the Mill Creek plant have spoken out against the coal ash wastewater being continuously dumped into the Ohio River. Across the country, environmental and public health organizations have also called on the EPA and the Obama Administration to impose common-sense protections for retired and still operating coal ash sites that treat its disposal with the same level of scrutiny as other dangerous materials.

Until now, coal ash disposal has been subject to zero oversight. The new rules categorize coal ash as solid waste -- not hazardous waste, which means it does not require the same disposal practices mandated for other, equally hazardous materials.

In response to the rules, Louisville-area residents Kathy Little, Mark Romines and Wallace McMullen, issued the following statement, with support from the Sierra Club:     

“For decades, coal ash has been dumped in our water and blown in our communities, without state or federal oversight.  While the EPA and the Obama Administration have taken an important first step by introducing this first ever, long-overdue rule to help protect our homes from the toxic by-product of our dirtiest energy source, the standard does not go far enough to protect our families from coal ash pollution.

“Specifically, we are disappointed that toxic coal ash has not been classified as hazardous waste and that the state of Kentucky will follow its 'business as usual' approach by not adequately protecting communities from coal ash. However, we do applaud the EPA in putting forward the ability to take corporations to federal court when they refuse to clean up toxic coal ash. We will continue to push the EPA and the state of Kentucky to make sure coal ash is properly disposed of and monitored, for the sake of our health.”


The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.

'Total Devastation' as Hurricane Ian Tears Through Florida

"Always remember that climate breakdown is only getting started," said one climate scientist. "It will keep getting worse so long as the fossil fuel industry exists. Cause, effect."

Jake Johnson ·

Truss' Tories Plan to Slash Public Spending While Clinging to Chaos-Causing Tax Cuts

"When the IMF tells you, 'hang on guys, this is going to be so bad for inequality it needs a rethink,' you've got a serious problem," one U.K. activist said of the new mini-budget.

Jessica Corbett ·

Sanders, Kaine Hail US Senate's Passage of Brazil Election Resolution

"It is important for the people of Brazil to know we're on their side, on the side of democracy," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "With passage of this resolution, we are sending that message."

Brett Wilkins ·

Highland Park Victims Sue Gun-Maker, Stores Over Negligence and Deceptive Practices

Lawyers argued that the "shooter was the type of a young consumer susceptible to Smith & Wesson's deceptive and unfair marketing, and was enabled by his father."

Julia Conley ·

NC Dems Plead for Cash as Beasley Deadlocked With GOP Opponent in Decisive US Senate Race

Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley has a one-point lead, but Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is getting more support from the Republican Party.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo