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Indiana environmentalists push back on EPA's coal ash rules

Indiana environmentalists are criticizing the easing of toxic coal ash regulations by President Donald Trump's administration.

Posted: Jul 20, 2018 10:12 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana environmentalists are criticizing the easing of toxic coal ash regulations by President Donald Trump's administration.

Environmental leaders say the new rule changes for coal-fired power plants put Indiana residents particularly at risk because the state has the most coal ash ponds in the country, the Indianapolis Star reported.

"There is nothing in this rule ... that is beneficial to the public health or environment," said Lisa Evans, an attorney for nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced amendments on Wednesday to Obama-era regulations for the disposal of coal ash from electric utilities. The ash left from burning coal is filled with contaminants such as arsenic, chromium and boron that leach into nearby groundwater and waterways.

The changes give state regulators flexibility in how they deal with large waste piles resulting from burning coal for electricity. Other amendments push back the deadline to close problematic ash dumps, weaken drinking water protections by removing some contamination limits and allowing state officials to end groundwater monitoring.

The revisions will save between $28 million and $31 million a year in regulatory costs, according to the EPA's announcement. The release didn't mention any benefits to the environment or public health as it relates to the rule.

Greater flexibility relating to ash dumps is the last thing Indiana needs, said Indra Frank, the environmental health and policy director with the Hoosier Environmental Council.

"The EPA's changes to the coal ash rule will set Indiana up for more groundwater contamination, a reduction in the number of contaminated sites that get cleaned up, slower cleanups for those that do and a higher risk of coal ash spills," Frank said.

As many as 15 power plants in Indiana have groundwater with dangerous levels of pollution, according to the newspaper's analysis. Frank said the toxins in the water around the ash ponds render the aquifers "unfit for human consumption" and raise the risk for cancer, heart disease and brain damage in children.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 708067

Reported Deaths: 13224
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion964881721
Lake51704945
Allen39185672
Hamilton34497405
St. Joseph34075540
Elkhart27306432
Vanderburgh22077394
Tippecanoe21818212
Porter17940299
Johnson17526374
Hendricks16803310
Clark12688190
Madison12350337
Vigo12211244
Monroe11462166
LaPorte11140204
Delaware10356184
Howard9662211
Kosciusko9127114
Hancock7979139
Bartholomew7888155
Warrick7684155
Floyd7560176
Wayne6899198
Grant6842171
Boone6552100
Morgan6395138
Dubois6084117
Marshall5783108
Dearborn570076
Cass5684102
Henry5577100
Noble542483
Jackson493269
Shelby479095
Lawrence4342118
Gibson428789
Harrison428170
Clinton419053
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DeKalb410984
Whitley379639
Huntington379480
Miami372565
Knox366389
Steuben365257
Putnam352660
Jasper350546
Wabash347778
Adams337952
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308354
Daviess289299
Wells286381
Decatur278992
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268833
Scott261153
Clay253444
LaGrange253070
Randolph235680
Washington230931
Spencer227931
Jennings224747
Fountain208745
Sullivan207842
Starke204352
Owen192256
Fulton191739
Jay186129
Carroll185820
Perry180336
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
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Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113645
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Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
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Warren79615
Switzerland7698
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