Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content
Share this page

Support PSR!

Your membership supports PSR's work to reduce global warming, eliminate toxics in our environment and abolish nuclear weapons. YOU make our work possible. Thank you.

Donate Now »

Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

On sale now! Enter code M17ENV25 at checkout for 25% discount.

140 Community, Public Health and Environmental Groups Demand a Clean Transportation Bill

June 6, 2012


140 Community, Public Health and Environmental Groups Demand a Clean Transportation Bill Unrelated riders on coal ash, NEPA, Keystone pipeline clog up jobs bill

Washington, D.C. – The transportation conference committee, comprised of members from both the House of Representatives and Senate, is working to iron out a deal on a massive transportation bill designed to fund and maintain America’s highways, mass transit infrastructure and two million American jobs. The Senate version was a meaningful bipartisan compromise. Unfortunately, what the version passed by the House lacked in transportation policy, it made up for in unrelated controversial “riders.” These riders would prohibit the EPA from ever regulating toxic coal ash dump sites, eviscerate public participation-oriented environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on complex transportation projects, and automatically permit the Keystone XL pipeline.
In a letter to Senate conferees from 14 states, 140 groups from those states joined together to ask the Senate to reject these corporate giveaways, particularly the coal ash provision, and pass a clean transportation bill.  Focusing on the coal ash provision, the letter states:

“Without national disposal standards, this voluminous waste will continue to be dumped in immense unlined ponds, like the one that collapsed in Kingston, Tennessee, and in unlined landfills,” the groups wrote. “The nation’s hundreds of coal ash ponds are subject to life-threatening catastrophic spills, and both ponds and landfills routinely poison drinking water sources when their cargo of toxic chemicals leaks into underlying groundwater.”
A copy of the letter is available here.

The Senate passed a clean bill earlier this year, and the current extension passed by the House is set to expire June 30.

“Unfortunately, as frequently as corporate lapdogs repeat that ‘coal ash is like dirt,’ scientifically that’s not the case. It’s just another blatantly false industry talking point,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans.  “The Senate rose above such nonsense and pulled together a transportation bill that focuses on creating meaningful transportation policy and helping fix the economy. The Senate understood that the transportation bill is about protecting American jobs, not poisoning American communities.  The coal ash amendment passed by the House will put Americans in thousands of communities at risk from exposure to toxic chemicals like arsenic, hexavalent chromium and lead. These communities don’t need more poison; they need more jobs and a cleaner future.”

“Improper disposal of coal ash poses serious threats to health,” said Barb Gottlieb of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “In fact, those risks are so severe that 840 health professionals from Physicians for Social Responsibility recently signed a letter urging President Obama to release health-protective, enforceable national standards for safe coal ash disposal. Congress should let the EPA do its job and protect us from this toxic threat, rather than undermining evidence-based science and the health of the American people.”

“Coal ash is simply too toxic not to have federally enforceable standards,” said Jennifer Peters, Clean Water Action Water Campaigns Coordinator.  “Congress should let EPA do its job, not create a legal loophole that benefits power plant  utilities at the expense of public health. This disparate rider has nothing to do with transportation and allows utilities to continue dumping toxic waste into unlined ponds and landfills without enforceable safeguards to prevent ground or surface water contamination.”
“Low income communities and communities of color have historically been the reluctant hosts to polluting industries,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE in Brooklyn, NY. “It saddens us that the narrow air passages of our children and the lungs of our elders must also house the waste from coal-fired powered plants.”

“The transportation bill is critical legislation that will save and create 2.9 million American jobs and shouldn’t be a vehicle for politicians to tack on irrelevant riders that let big polluters run over the health and well-being of our communities,” said Melinda Pierce, Legislative Director at the Sierra Club. “Rep. McKinley’s reckless amendment is a giveaway to Big Coal that would treat coal ash – a known carcinogen - as less harmful than household trash, while doing nothing to prevent another disaster like the one that devastated Kingston, Tennessee in 2008. McKinley’s legislation is another in a long line of attacks from House leadership on the health of our environment and our families.”

“The coal ash rider industry wants to attach to the transportation bill is designed to keep polluters from having to clean up contaminated ash dumps,” said Eric Schaeffer, of Environmental Integrity Project. “Let’s hope Congress has the good sense to reject this special interest lobbying.


Emily Enderle, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5201 Lisa Evans, Earthjustice, (781) 631-4119 Barb Gottlieb, Physicians for Social Responsibility, (202) 587-5225 Jennifer Peters, Clean Water Action, (202) 895-0420 x. 105 Elizabeth Yeampierre, Esq., UPROSE, (718) 492-9307 Dalal Aboulhosn, Sierra Club, (202) 675-6278 Eric Schaeffer, Environmental Integrity Project, (202) 296-8800 Anna Lucas, Western Organization of Resource Councils, (406) 252-9672


Related Contact

Action Alerts

More action alertsĀ»


More »


  • Webinar: Health Risks of Nuclear Power

    As PSR chapters promote the transition to clean renewable energy, some are finding that nuclear power is being proposed as renewable. This webinar explores exactly why nuclear is not clean, not safe and not renewable. Read more »

  • Fracking Compendium 5 Water Excerpt

    Given the timely and important consideration of the issue by state officials in Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with Concerned Health Professionals of New York, has released excerpts from the upcoming Fifth Edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Released in Miami in advance of the full report, this new document contains an up-to-date analysis and compilation of the science on water contamination risks from drilling, fracking, and associated activities. Read more »

  • Natural Gas: Not a healthy or climate-protective solution for the Clean Power Plan

    Building natural gas plants to replace coal-fired power is not a solution to the climate crisis; it merely replaces one fossil fuel with another. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • April 28, 2018
    2018 Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship Awards Ceremony
    Join Oregon PSR to celebrate the high school student winners of this year's scholarship. Featuring keynote speaker Marshallese anti-nuclear and climate activist and poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. April 28 at 6 pm in Portland, Oregon.