Sarbanes Highlights Dangerous Impact of Coal Ash on American Communities and Renews Calls for Environmental Justice [Video]

April 15, 2021
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) underscored the health and environmental hazards of industrial pollution, like coal ash, on underserved communities across the country and implored his colleagues to work expeditiously to advance environmental justice initiatives.

“I certainly appreciate the work this committee has been doing to bring environmental justice to the forefront of the conversation,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “It’s really, really critical.”

Sarbanes continued: “One of the bills we are discussing today is the Ensuring Safe Disposal of Coal Ash Act, which would establish stronger protections against unsafe coal ash disposal. As we know, coal ash … is one of the largest types of industrial waste in the United States…. and according to the EPA, in 2012, about 110 million tons of coal ash was generated.”

Sarbanes added: “I’ve seen that in Maryland. We’ve had some real challenges there, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of coal ash pollution on residents and the dangers associated with unsafe disposal…. It is of little surprise now to know that an estimated 60 percent of coal ash disposal sites are located near low-income communities.”

Sarbanes concluded: “… There’s a double hit on these communities. On the front end, they are getting this environmental injustice. On the back end, there’s often a gap in terms of them being able to access the health care and resources they need to actually help them cope with the impact of that environmental injustice.”

See below for a video of the Congressman’s remarks.