Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Public Meeting on Proposed Coal Ash Regulation Bills in Alabama Legislature 2011

WildLaw Community Action Coalition

Contact:  Barbara Evans
Organizing Coordinator
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Transportation and Utilities will meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 10, 2011 in Room 727 to consider SB 80, sponsored by Senator Del Marsh of Anniston.

While this bill has been described as an attempt to regulate coal ash, in truth it will change the coal ash from being handled as “special waste”  to “solid waste”, which would allow the toxic substance in every household waste landfill in Alabama. 

Residents of Perry County Alabama who live near Uniontown are already experiencing health problems and quality of life issues because of the toxic coal ash brought in from the huge environmental disaster in Tennessee.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering regulating coal ash as hazardous waste, which could only be deposited in hazardous waste landfills such as the one in Emelle, Alabama. The EPA decision may not come until 2012.

While SB 80 allows for future compliance with any regulations set forth by EPA, in the interim it would allow coal ash in Alabama’s household waste landfills, even to be used as a cover for household waste, and would “grandfather” in sites currently accepting coal ash, such as the Perry County Landfill. 

At a House Committee meeting last week, residents from Perry County testified about how the coal ash has impacted their lives, health, and made their land worthless. That dump is located right across a county road from an African American community.  The mountain of coal ash can be seen from miles away, and the stench keeps people indoors.

The legislation is backed by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

“People need to be extremely concerned about this legislation”, said Barbara Evans, Organizing Coordinator.  “While coal ash needs state regulation, it must be classified as what it truly is….hazardous waste.  The toxic coal ash brought to Alabama from Tennessee to Perry County was still a toxic substance when it got here.  I am concerned that this bill is being rammed through on a fast track without the whole truth being told about what the bill does.”

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the power, through faith, to overcome that fear.

**Editor's Note--SB80 is the companion bill to HB50 sponsored by Representative Greg Canfield-R.
Senator Del Marsh-R is sponsoring SB181 that seeks to limit and cap the fine amounts for violations determined by ADEM and the EMC:
"c. Any civil penalty assessed or recovered under paragraph a. or b. of this subdivision shall not be less than $100.00 or exceed $25,000.00 for each violation, provided however, that the total penalty assessed in an order issued by the department under paragraph a. of this subdivision shall not exceed $250,000.00.
**It is important to note that ADEM profits off of each ton of coal ash deposited into landfills, yes, as ridiculous as it sounds, the same agency that is charged with enforcing regulations and compliance is on both sides of the fence.
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  1. This bill is no good!
    Let's make it solid waste so we can dump it all over Alabama landfills. NO!
    Why do we have some mainstream environmentalists supporting it? Time to grow a pair and stop accepting crumbs of false do good from the legislature!

  2. We've been down this road before people:
    Lawyer accuses ADEM, Olin Corp. of illegal dumping
    Saturday, September 22, 2007
    Staff Reporter
    An attorney has accused the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Olin Corp. of
    breaking federal law by dumping more than 23,000 tons of mercury-laced wastes in the Timberlands Sanitary Landfill in Escambia County in February.

    If they classify coal ash as a solid waste, we will see more of these types of incidents from 2007.

  3. Who wrote the bill? ADEM and Balch & Bingham?
    One who will profit from it, the other who serves as protectors of Alabama Power?
    Why is there no groundwater monitoring provision in the bill? You can add some penalties for falling to consistently and regularly do groundwater monitoring while you are at it Canfield and Marsh.
    Your bills are toothless tigers, and I am beginning to think the same of you both.

  4. Rep. Canfield claims that if we don't have this bill that we might just see coal ash dumped all over, so we need the bill. Is that to imply that illegal dumping of anything is no longer a crime in Alabama sir?
    You know what it sounds like to me? Someone is looking for a way to put toxic coal ash in landfills on the cheap, knowing full well that ADEM does little to monitor anything but the fees coming into the agency.
    How many people are employed there now? 600 or so? Think of all the money we could have for real enforcement if we got rid of 2/3of them and put the money towards what they are actually supposed to be doing.
    How's that for a reasonable concept?

  5. Gee thanks so much for showing all of us where your real loyalties lie legislators, with the corporate fat cats.
    You want a license to poison with this bill and by God you should not be able to get away with it!!!!

  6. Barbara Evans is tops in my book.
    She works so hard for the right things for little more thanks than the satisfaction that she is trying to do the right things.

  7. Alabama is one of the most toxic states to live in thanks to the legislature and ADEM. There are way too many men of little character making the rules and because of it we are all suffering needlessly.
    If just one of their children, God forbid, came down with Leukemia because of a big polluter they may see things differently.
    But they all live in these rich enclaves and make sure big polluters aren't their neighbors, no that is reserved for the lesser people in their minds.
    How many powerful politicians have getaway properties on Smith Lake? Plenty.
    What happened when a coal strip mine tried to come in there?
    It was defeated of course! Can't have Jabo Waggoner and the boys having to look at strip mines from their perches now can we?
    They are such hypocrites! And crooks!

  8. Annette in AlabamaMarch 9, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I just got off the phone with Rep. Canfield and it appears he was most unhappy with my call, comments and questions.

    I asked if he wrote the bill. He told me ADEM wrote it. I asked if he had read it. He said he had. Then I asked if he knew what the words meant and that I was relatively certain he could not know what all of this means or else he would have never put his name as the sponsor of this bill.

    I asked if he was aware, one day the people will know and that he was the one who sponsored this bill. I asked if he realized the harm this would do to his name. He asked if I was threatening him. I told him I was not. I did say, the bill was threatening me. This bill is a threat. And I added it was like terrorism.

    He was most unhappy with my call. He said he did not want to continue the conversation. I had insulted him by referring to him and the other representatives in Montgomery as 'you boys' and how they do these things which do so much damage all in the name of representing the people.

    He didn't like talking to me and I didn't want to talk to him and behave as if all was well. I told him I wanted him to know I was upset. I am upset.

    He finally declared a need for coal ash regulation. I interjected ---this bill will provide none. He disagreed.

    I told him if he wanted to write a bill about coal ash so there would be regulation in Alabama - he could write one. It would be less cost effective for the power company (I believe this is where the cost belongs and not some easy solution which will pollute and certainly not a bill strapped onto the backs of the people making the people pay and suffer).

    The re-defining of toxic coal ash waste as solid waste seems criminal to me. Like murder when you kill someone and then later say, 'Well, actually he died.'

    Of course he died. You killed him. Declaring or re-defining this person is simply dead in order to make the murder a non-issue sounds like something lawyers would come up with.

    I want Rep. Canfield to know at least one person in the State of Alabama is upset with this proposal. It is ludicrous, in my opinion, for a grown man, elected by the people to present something of this level of importance for a vote, knowing the people of Alabama are running around thinking their representatives are in Montgomery REPRESENTING them. The truth, regarding this bill, will not be forthcoming for awhile. Rep. Canfield has behaved as though this is a bill which will save the day for the people he represents. Making it appear there is regulation for the power company’s coal ash.
    Why can’t those elected who are supposed to serve the people get busy and do their own research? Why can’t they just the right things?

    This bill is for the state and the power company. Saves the power company money and will provide a place for the toxic stuff under a new definition as solid waste. ADEM will get the money for the fees. Rep. Canfield will think he looks good. ADEM will be grateful because it will generate some needed revenue for the state. The power company will be happy the state has provided a cheap fix for an expensive problem and the landfill people will make more money, too.

    By the time a few more people find out about the damage from the dumping of toxic waste, all the sick people who have cancer will be running around trying to get better. Most folks will never connect all the dots. There are ‘other’ cancer causing elements in the environment. Let the people wonder or worry. Let the people die. The politicians know this. Besides, most people will never know.

  9. Seconded--NO to the bill!
    When did we reach the point where average citizens in Alabama were considered so expendable?
    Oh that's right, it's always been that way hasn't it? Especially at the hands of the coal boys.

  10. ANNETTE--

    Thank you for the information. Senator Marsh is also on the hook and did you know that to get his email address you have to go to his Facebook page?

    We have gotten emails that neither is returning responses on this issue and others. But the Big Mule boys have unfettered access to them. 23 lobbyists are registered for Alabama Power. 3 more if you count the BARD boys, Bradley, Fowler & Gilbert.

    Charles McCrary and Alabama Power are employing overkill for a reason. McCrary can get anything done without a lobbyist in sight, yet there are in effect 26 there for him.

    What does that say to you all?


  11. No one man has done more harm to America on the issue of coal than Jasper, Alabama's own Tom Bevill:

    What is the Bevill Exclusion to RCRA?
    Note: The answers to these questions should not be used to make formal determinations of the status of how wastes at a particular facility are regulated under 40 CFR 261.4(b)(7). Such opinions should be secured from the RCRA authorized state or the EPA Regional office.

    * Much of RCRA's history in mining regulation has involved rulemakings designed to determine which mining and mineral processing waste streams should be regulated as "hazardous waste."

    * In October, 1980, RCRA was amended by adding section 3001(b)(3)(A)(ii), known as the Bevill exclusion, to exclude "solid waste from the extraction, beneficiation, and processing of ores and minerals" from regulation as hazardous waste under Subtitle C of RCRA. This exclusion held pending completion of a study and a Report to Congress, required by section 8002 (f) and (p), and pending a determination by the EPA Administrator either to promulgate regulations under Subtitle C or to declare such regulations unwarranted.
    Coal Ash--The Hidden Story

  12. Annette in AlabamaMarch 9, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Please know this - Max - I will make a call to Marsh. Today was just not his lucky day.

    And for the record I have witnesses on the call to Representative Greg "Toxic" Canfield. It's a little more fun - sort of a 'the more the merrier.'

    I am extremely upset with this proposal, Canfield, Marsh, ADEM and Alabama Power.

    See how long this list is getting? And just think, before SB80 and HB50 - the list was ADEM and Alabama Power.

  13. This is a big pony and dog show to make it look like someone is doing something good in the state house. I can't remember the last time anything good came from Goat Hill.
    No to the bill. Too weak. Too much behind the scenes wheeling and dealing.

  14. Dear Coal,

    We've been together a long, long time, but I'm sorry, I'm leaving you for another. Don't try to argue: like it or not, I need you to move out by 2025. My friends at the Sierra Club have been pushing hard for this for a while, what with the lobbying and their Beyond Coal campaign, and I finally have to concede they're right.

    You might as well know there's a new love in my life. We've been flirting for a while; that's why between the two of them, Oregon and Washington possess 38 percent of the nation's hydropower capacity. Throw in some natural gas and a little wind and you can see where this is going. I've got needs, and I can't in good conscience satisfy them in a fashion that's unsustainable. It's for the children.

    The Pacific Northwest

    Read more:
    Last coal plant in Pacific Northwest to shut down starting in 2020 LA Times

  15. Ah very good coalwatcher!
    Someone is definitely paying attention to the devilish Bevill Exclusion. Were it not for that single action, we would not be where we are today on this issue.
    The EPA has just announced that after 450,000 comments after the public hearings, that they WILL NOT be making a change on coal ash regulation. They have caved to industry pressure.
    We kind of expected that, but the large enviro groups are giving them well-deserved hell for folding.
    All of you that are concerned about this issue should familiarize yourself with the Bevill Exclusion.
    More here from legal eagles:
    Coal Ash Regulations...EPA Speaks, well, sort of


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