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Tenn. enviro groups sound alarm over Pruitt EPA initiatives


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  It’s something of an understatement to say Tennessee environmentalists are not happy with new Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The Trump Administration appointee is moving quickly to roll back a number of current and planned pollution controls, including those governing the storage of the ash produced by coal burning power plants.

In 2008, Tennessee suffered one of the worst environmental disaster in its history.  A coal ash retention pond near Kingston cracked open spilling more than a billion gallons of toxic ash over 300 acres and a long stretch of the Clinch River.

Amanda Garcia is an attorney with the Nashville office of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“The EPA has indicated that it’s going to reconsider those common sense and long overdue public health protections that would keep another disaster like Kingston from happening -- that would keep toxic pollutants like Mercury and Arsenic out of our rivers and streams.”

The Law Center’s concerns were given some perspective in late October by a report from a highly respected medical journal. The Lancet says pollution related diseases resulted in 9 million deaths worldwide in 2015 alone. Garcia believes Tennesseans are at risk.

“Our biggest concern at SELC is that the federal EPA seems to have lost sight of its fundamental mission to protect the public health of Tennesseans.”

Garcia says EPA is also on the verge of canceling planned rules that would have reduced the amount of Mercury allowed in Tennessee’s air and water.