Avoid the water, and don’t eat the fish. That’s what many people in my home state of North Carolina are being told after over 30,000 tons of toxic coal ash spilled into the Dan River last month. This hits close to home for me, literally.
As a child, I remember canoeing down the Dan River with my dad and sister, taking in the remarkable water and wildlife. It makes me sick that the Dirty Coal industry can so flagrantly damage that beautiful environment without any repercussions.
But it’s not just North Carolina we have to worry about. Time and time again we are seeing that no state is safe from dirty energy.
From the coal ash spill in North Carolina the recent oil spill that shut down a 65 mile stretch of the Mississippi River, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” the next spill will be.
Big Oil and Dirty Coal can’t -- or won’t -- take the necessary precautions to contain their toxic waste, so we need to step in today before it’s too late. And we can start by taking on Dirty Coal now.
This year, the EPA will finalize new rules that could protect our communities from the dangers of coal ash and make it easier for us to ensure that Dirty Coal is responsible for the hazardous waste they create.
But what we don’t know is if these new protections will be strong enough to actually do something to stop corporate polluters from treating our environment like an open sewer.
That’s where you come in.
Right now, there are more than 45 coal ash storage centers in 27 locations across the country that have been deemed as a “high hazard potential rating” -- that means that if these structures fail and coal ash leaks, it’s likely that people will die.
Despite human lives being in their hands, you can bet the Dirty Coal industry will be aggressively lobbying for weaker storage regulations. So we need a strong push to advocate for powerful safeguards that would protect our people and waters.
The North Carolina coal ash spill is just one of the untold number of environmental catastrophes we see each year as a direct result of our country’s addiction to dirty energy. And to be honest with you, I’m disheartened by the number of spills and contaminations we’ve already seen this year alone.
But I’m also excited about the opportunity we have to learn from these experiences and protect ourselves from future spills.
As a new Online Campaigner with the League of Conservation Voters, I’m looking forward to working with each and every one of you for a brighter and cleaner future for our communities and our planet. If enough of us speak out now, we can send a message to corporate polluters that they will not get away with their irresponsible behavior anymore.
So join me in urging the EPA to pass strong protections against coal ash now.
(The photograph was taken by Waterkeep Alliance Inc.)