For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Brian Willis, 202.675.2386,

Clean Water Coalition Submits 56,700+ Comments Demanding Scott Pruitt Keep Coal Ash Rules

Comment period for Scott Pruitt’s proposal to rollback EPA protections against toxic coal ash ends today.

WASHINGTON - Sierra Club and clean water coalition partners submitted 56,703 comments today demanding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt keep in place federal protections against toxic coal ash - the dangerous waste product of coal-fired power plants. These comments come on the heels of last week’s EPA public hearing, where more than 60 local leaders from communities across the country traveled to Arlington, Virginia, to oppose Pruitt’s proposal to rollback the coal ash rules.

“More than 56,000 Americans spoke up today and told  Scott Pruitt that enough is enough - they won't stand by while he sacrifices their water quality so that his polluter patrons can make a few extra dollars,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “It’s unbelievable that even in the mist of dozens of scandals and conflicts of interests with corporate polluters, Pruitt is still considering rolling back these protections and reiterating his allegiance to fossil fuel lobbyists.”

The protections Pruitt is proposing to scrap currently require that existing coal ash waste pits are monitored with results reported on publicly accessible websites, and that new coal ash pits are lined with waterproof material so that their toxic contents cannot seep into local groundwater or waterways. These modest steps offer some protection to communities nearby coal ash waste sites and allow them to monitor their water for possible contamination.

“Rolling back these federal protections against coal ash pollution is one of the worst things coming out of Scott Pruitt’s EPA. And with all the scandals and conflicts of interests that are being reported by the media on a daily basis, that is really saying something,” Hitts said. “Pruitt is ignoring thousands of communities that will be hurt by rolling back these protections, just to save corporate polluters a little bit of money. He should be ashamed.”

Today, 1.5 million children live near coal ash storage sites, which contain some of the most dangerous known toxic chemicals and heavy metals on earth, like arsenic, lead, mercury, and chromium. These substances raise the risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and can inflict permanent brain damage on children. As the waste product of coal fired power plants, most coal ash is stored in open, unlined pits near local water resources - where it can seep through soil and contaminate water that surrounding communities use for drinking, cooking, and recreation.


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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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