Congresswoman Adams Introduced an Amendment to H.R. 1734 that Would Keep Families Informed About Coal Ash Pollutants; Enhance Access to Safe Drinking Water
Washington, DC – July 23, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. House today passed H.R. 1734, Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015. Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (NC-12) introduced an amendment to H.R. 1734 that would have required regular water-well testing as well as the creation of a public website containing up-to-date water quality information. The amendment also required the owner or operator of coal ash ponds to provide access to another source of drinking water within 24 hours, if water is found to be contaminated. Congresswoman Adams’ amendment received bipartisan support, but was not adopted into the final House bill with a party line vote of 192 to 230.
Congresswoman Adams also co-sponsored an amendment along with Representatives G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), Bobby Rush (IL-1), Yvette Clarke (NY-9) and David Price (NC-4) that would have given the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator authority to prevent H.R. 1734 from going into effect if it was determined to negatively impact children, pregnant women, the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions and others considered to be part of vulnerable population groups. This amendment was not adopted into the final House bill.
Congresswoman Adams’ statement on House passage of H.R. 1734 is below:
“I’m extremely disappointed that the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1734 – a bill to weaken current coal ash rules put in place by the EPA. I am even more disappointed that this legislation passed without serious protections to keep our communities safe from coal ash contaminated drinking water. I am hopeful that this destructive legislation will be prevented from becoming law; our communities deserve to be protected from toxic coal ash.”
Earlier, Congresswoman Adams spoke on the House floor in support of her amendment to H.R. 1734. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker my amendment provides strong and consistent safeguards to inform communities about coal ash contaminants in their drinking water supply wells.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk about regulatory certainty. Certainty for utilities. Certainty for coal ash recyclers. But what about certainty for children and families who live near coal ash sites? Certainty of transparency for the parents who rely on well water to prepare their children’s meals and bathe them at night. These parents have the right to know if their water is safe to consume and have a right to access that information immediately. And what about certainty of accountability to ensure that these families can expect an alternate water supply if it has been compromised by coal ash pollution?
“ North Carolina can give the nation a lesson about what poor management of coal ash looks like.
It took a disastrous spill of coal ash into the Dan River to make it clear that the protection of our communities and waterways could not rely on the goodwill of powerful utilities. North Carolina learned the hard way that when state regulators stick their heads in the sand to allow the unfettered disposal of coal ash…. spills happen.
“I would like to share with my colleagues the most recent update on well testing from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Out of the 285 wells tested, 265 show contamination. That’s more than 90 percent of the drinking water wells showing contamination. This information is made possible to communities because of SB729, a bill that the North Carolina General Assembly passed last year, while I served in the State legislature.
“Following the Dan River spill, North Carolina now requires owners and operators of coal ash dams to identify all drinking water supply wells within one-half mile, down-gradient from the impoundments. If sampling indicates high levels of contamination, the owner or operator must replace the contaminated drinking water with an alternate supply of water that is safe. My amendment seeks to provide rural communities across the nation with the same requirements that citizens in North Carolina now enjoy. Requirements that will give them the certainty that their water is safe.
“Americans in North Carolina and across the nation have the right to access safe drinking-water. Especially, rural communities who rely overwhelmingly on private wells as their main source of drinking water. Finally, coal ash pollution often affects low-income communities, who don’t have the resources to go up against big utilities. Passing this amendment will give these communities the resources they deserve to protect themselves.
“I urge my colleagues to join me in standing with the people of North Carolina and rural communities across the nation who deserve transparency and nothing less.”