by Max Brantley
You'll recall that U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin yesterday blamed government regulation for the tough economy. He listed 10 federal regulations that need to be scaled back so that the free market might flourish. One of them:
Coal Ash: These anti-infrastructure regulations, commonly referred to as the “coal ash” rules, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, affecting everything from concrete production to building products like wall board. The result is an estimated loss of well over 100,000 jobs. H.R. 2273, the Coals Residuals Reuse and Management Act, sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (WV), would create an enforceable minimum standard for the regulation of coal ash by the states, allowing their use in a safe manner that protects jobs.
HR 2273 would block the EPA from requiring power companies to do safe cleanups of coal ash.
Lovely coincidence. There was a huge collapse in Wisconsin of a pile of power plant coal ash into Lake Michigan this week — in Paul Ryan's district, no less.
Environmental groups had warned about the danger of that plant more than a year ago. report from McClatchy:
A study released Thursday finds that 39 sites in 21 states, including Wisconsin, where coal-fired power plants dump their coal ash are contaminating water with toxic metals such as arsenic and other pollutants and that the problem is more extensive than previously estimated.
The Republican solution is to turn enforcement of a very low standard over to the states. There, in the typical industry-friendly state (i.e. Arkansas), voluntary compliance would be the watchword. Inspection would be minimal. Compliance after the fact of collapses such as experienced in Wisconsin. But, hey. If you can't trust corporations to be good environmental citizens, who can you trust? Are they not flesh and blood like the rest of us? Supreme Court and Mitt Romney say so.