For Immediate Release

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Washington DC: 202-547-1141
San Francisco: 415-977-5500

Pruitt Gives Another Present to Coal Executives

Attack on Coal Ash Safeguards Threatens Public Health As Storms Imperil Existing Ash Pits.

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, granted a polluter petition to “reconsider” new clean water protections against dangerous coal ash pits near America’s drinking water supplies. Pruitt’s decision came ahead of opening arguments for a pending case on the water protections in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and is widely considered to be a ploy to scrap the protections entirely - benefiting coal plant owners eager to avoid accountability for the substantial public health dangers their coal ash pits pose to communities living near them.  

These pits are frequently located near major waterways and groundwater used for drinking water, outdoor recreation, and farming, and can easily contaminate these water supplies through seepage. This is especially relevant when considering the massive flood devastation by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the numerous coal ash pits in both Florida and Texas. Coal ash has high levels of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead, which can cause serious health problems, including cancer, kidney disease, reproductive problems, and birth defects - making it especially harmful to pregnant women and young children.

The new clean water protections Pruitt is aiming to “reconsider” are the first substantive step EPA has taken toward reining in pollution from coal ash. Pruitt’s decision to “reconsider” the protections jeopardizes the safety of those communities that depend on waterways and groundwater supplies near where coal ash pits are located.

In response, Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, released the following statement:

“Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt are continuing their capitulation to the coal industry at the expense of the health of our families. Pruitt’s decision to target the new clean water protections is another heartless ploy by the Trump administration scrap progress on protecting our families from toxic coal ash.

“This is another example of a Pruitt not caring about science, working families, or clean water, and instead bending over backwards for polluters eager to avoid accountability to the laws that keep our communities and families healthy. We’re not surprised and are definitely not deterred from standing up for the communities he’s putting at risk.”


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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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