Communities from Across U.S. Stand Together, Demand Trump and Pruitt Protect Their Water from Coal Sludge

Community leaders from across the United States traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify at the EPA’s Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) hearing, demanding Donald Trump and his EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, stop pandering to billionaire coal executives and protect every family and community from coal plants dumping toxic, industrial sludge into their drinking water supplies.

The EPA hearing was held to discuss Pruitt’s decision to delay compliance deadlines for strengthened protections against coal plant wastewater dumping. Prior to their testimony at the hearing, local community leaders, concerned citizens, and environmental group leaders held a press conference at the National Press Club to share their personal stories on how coal plants pollute their local water supplies. After the press conference, they traveled to EPA headquarters to testify at the hearing, where a mobile billboard reading “polluted wastewater is hard to swallow” circled.

Before being strengthened in 2015, EPA hadn’t updated clean water protections for coal plant dumping in more than 30 years. The previous, decades-old standards allowed coal plants to release billions of pounds of contaminated wastewater directly into our rivers, lakes, and bays every year. This wastewater contains dangerous and toxic heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead, which can cause long-term health problems, especially in children and pregnant women. They can cause cancer, impair mental development and learning ability, and even threaten a child’s life. Due to this lack of oversight, nearly 40 percent of all coal plants dump their toxic pollution within five miles of a downstream community’s drinking water intake.  The 2015 ELGs were an important and long-overdue step toward cleaner water for all Americans, which Pruitt now threatens to reverse.

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

“Today, the millions of people that Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt are putting at risk in their mad dash to appease polluters are actually being represented in Washington. For those who traveled all the way to our nation’s capitol to testify before the EPA, and the many more who submitted comments, today’s fight is about getting the peace of mind that our water is safe to drink. It’s about giving our children glasses of water and knowing it won’t make them sick. And most importantly, it’s about making sure that our government will put our health, and the health of every other American before the profits of billionaire coal executives that want four country homes instead of the two. We are standing together demanding that Trump and Pruitt follow the law and protect our communities from industrial sludge being dumped into our waterways.”

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