INSTITUTE INDEX: Trump seeks rollback of post-TVA disaster coal ash protections

Following the 2008 coal ash spill from a TVA plant in Eastern Tennesse, the EPA adopted the first comprehensive federal regulations for the toxic waste. But now the Trump administration is seeking to roll back those rules. (Image of the TVA disaster is a still from this United Mountain Defense video.)

Year in which a coal ash impoundment at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant in East Tennessee failed catastrophically, wrecking a residential community, polluting two rivers, and poisoning residents and cleanup workers: 2008

In response to public outcry for better regulation in the disaster's wake, year in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally adopted the first comprehensive federal regulations for coal ash impoundments at power plants: 2015

Year in which the EPA adopted another rule limiting the amount of toxic metals that could be discharged from coal ash impoundments into waterways: 2015

Pounds of toxic pollutants including arsenic, lead, mercury, and radium that the Obama administration estimated these rules would keep out of rivers and streams: 1.4 billion

Month in which the Trump EPA unveiled new proposals partially rolling back both of the rules, which it will take comments on for 60 days: 11/2019

Before joining the Trump administration, number of years that current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler spent working as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, a leading U.S. coal mining company that lobbied for reconsideration of the Obama-era coal ash rules: 8

Under the existing rules, year by which power plants were supposed to stop dumping coal ash waste into unlined impoundments, a deadline that not all utilities will be able to meet: 2020

Under the Trump administration's proposals, months utilities would be allowed to extend that deadline, which as one leading coal ash expert noted gives them more time to fold, declare bankruptcy, or otherwise duck their financial responsibility and shift it to the public: 5 to 60

Also under the proposed rules, amount utilities would save annually by using cheaper wastewater pollution control technologies: $175 million

Month in which a federal appeals court said that that the current Obama-era rule limiting runoff from coal ash impoundments was already too lenient: 4/2019

Year in which the Trump administration weakened other Obama-era coal ash regulations, extending the life of some impoundments and allowing states to suspend groundwater monitoring in certain cases: 2018

Number of Americans who live within 3 miles of a power plant that's currently discharging coal ash pollution to rivers, lakes, and other public waterways: 1.1 million

Percentage points by which the poverty rate of U.S. households located within a mile of coal-fired power plants exceeds the national average: 2.5

Rank of the Southeast among U.S. regions with the greatest concentration of coal ash impoundments: 1

Percent of the nation's coal ash impoundments that are unlined: more than 95

According to the plants' own self-reported monitoring data, percent of U.S. coal-fired plants that are contaminating groundwater with toxic substances at levels exceeding federal safety standards: 91

(Click on figure to go to source.)