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Coal Ash Industry Manipulated EPA Data, Ghost-Wrote Agency Reports for a Decade

The industry "watered down official reports, brochures and fact-sheets to remove references to potential dangers." So-called "environmental benefits" were aggrandized.

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Recent documents obtained by PEER indicate that the coal industry had access to these health reports and was successful in manipulating the information presented to the public about coal ash's negative effects on humans and the environment.

References indicating the "high-risk" potential of coal combustion waste were deleted from PowerPoint presentations. Cautionary language about coal waste uses in agricultural practices was altered in order to remove negative connotations. In 2007, the coal ash industry inserted language in an EPA report to Congress about how "industry and EPA [need to] work together" in order to block or water down "state regulations [that] are hindering progress" in the use of coal ash waste.

"It is no joke - the terms of the coal ash partnership tuck EPA snugly into bed with industry for the purpose of marketing coal combustion wastes as a product," Ruch of PEER added, noting that the partnership has now crossed over into the Obama administration. "EPA is supposed to be an objective regulatory agency dedicated to protecting the public instead of protecting a gigantic subsidy for a powerful industry."

Joshua Frank is an environmental journalist and author of "Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush." He is co-editor, with Jeffrey St. Clair, of "Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland." Frank and St. Clair are also the authors of the forthcoming book, "Green Scare: The New War on Environmentalism." He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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