EPA secrecy on coal-ash list worries lawmakers

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Environmental Protection Agency has identified 44 "high hazard" coal-ash piles across the country but is not letting the public know where they are.

That's prompted calls by U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to make them public.

"I would want to know if my house and family was near one of these ash piles," said Yarmuth, acknowledging that his district contains two coal-fired power plants that store ash in ponds, one of which was previously identified as "high hazard" by Kentucky officials. "I don't understand what the great national security interest is. If they are worried about potential terrorists, that would seem to be a stretch."

Kentucky and Indiana are leading producers of ash from coal-fired power plants. Both states have numerous ash sites where the waste is stored, often in ponds near power plants.

He said the secrecy troubles him, especially since the Obama administration has promised a more open government.

EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said the decision to withhold the list came after the agency received a recommendation from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Boxer complained about the government secrecy in a morning news conference, then sent a letter to the EPA, Department of Homeland Security and Army Corps of Engineers -- the agencies she said played a role in the decision, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal.

Copyright - The Louisville Courier-Journal

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