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EPA Coal Ash Hearing Set For Tuesday In Louisville

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public hearing this week in Louisville on a proposal that would give the EPA regulatory control over coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants.Coal ash is currently regulated at the state level. There have been heightened concerns about coal waste disposal sites across the country since a Tennessee reservoir ruptured in 2008.Barbara Gottlieb with the group Physicians for Social Responsibility says there are also worries about the use of coal ash in landscaping and road projects. "What you have in these structural fill situations is coal ash with some earth over it. There's obviously no umbrella protecting that coal ash from the rain and the snow, and there's no protective liner underneath,collecting and protecting the leachate from flowing out, so you have an extremely dangerous situation," she said. Environmental groups want the federal government to impose tougher regulations on coal ash, which contains toxic heavy metals. Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett says the industry is opposed to federal coal ash regulation."I think you have to judge the Kentucky state government on the work that it's doing and that we haven't had the problems that have existed in other states...I think we're doing good work here," he said. The EPA hearing will be held Tuesday morning at the Seelbach Hotel. Environmenatal activists and officials from area utility companies are among those scheduled to speak.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.

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