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Science and Environment

New Coal Ash Rules Focus Of Upcoming "Greening The Statehouse" Event

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Dave Emerson
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveemerson/

 Environmental groups are gearing up for their annual "Greening the Statehouse" event this weekend at the University of Indianapolis, where they'll be learning about the EPA's new rules on coal ash storage.

The ash is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants, and it contains heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic. It's often stored wet, in sludge ponds, and Indiana has more of them than any other state. 

Lisa Evans, Sr. Administrative Counsel for Earth Justice, says groups such as the Hoosier Environmental Council were instrumental in helping to establish the new rules, which went into effect last month. She'll give the keynote address at Saturday's gathering. 

"Without the work of Indiana public interest groups, we would not have had a national coal ash rule," she says.

Coal ash pollution is the second-largest industrial waste stream in the U.S. and it directly affects water, Evans says.

"It's the slow leaking of toxic chemicals into the ground," she says, "which then flow into the ground and then can flow into drinking water, like they did in the town of Pines, IN, or out to surface water, and contaminate the lakes and streams." 

The federal government declared the northern Indiana town of Pines as a Superfund site after contaminants from coal ash leached into its groundwater for decades.

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