EPA Finalizes Denial of Alabama's Coal Ash Permitting Program
MAJOR DEVELOPMENT

EPA Finalizes Denial of Alabama's Coal Ash Permitting Program

Protecting Alabama’s Waterways and Citizens from Coal Ash Pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 23, 2024 

MOBILE, AL — In a definitive action aimed at protecting Alabamians and their waterways, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s (ADEM) coal-ash permitting program. This decision follows an extensive public comment period where thousands of Alabamians voiced their concerns about the state’s permitting of plans to cap in place coal ash ponds across the state. These plans would have allowed those coal ash ponds to pollute nearby waterways indefinitely. 

The denial of Alabama’s permitting program by the EPA ensures that coal ash, which contains hazardous substances such as arsenic and mercury, will not be left in unlined pits that are polluting local rivers, lakes, and groundwater. The federal Coal Combustion Residuals Rule sets a high bar for coal ash disposal practices, a standard that Alabama’s proposed program did not meet, primarily due to its allowance for coal ash to remain in unlined, water-saturated pits adjacent to vital waterways. 

“Today marks a significant victory for every Alabamian who values clean water,” says Cade Kistler of Mobile Baykeeper. “The EPA’s final denial underscores what our communities have said all along — that leaving toxic coal ash in unlined leaking pits by our rivers is unacceptable. Alabama must follow our southeastern neighbors and adopt a protective permitting program that keeps communities safe by properly disposing of hazardous coal ash, not abandoning it on our riverbanks.” 

The focus of concern has been sites like Alabama Power’s Plant Barry, where more than 21 million tons of coal ash are stored perilously close to the Mobile River, just upstream from Mobile Bay. The documented ongoing pollution and potential for disaster at such sites has been a rallying point for citizens and environmental groups alike, emphasizing the need for stringent regulatory oversight. 

In response to the EPA’s finalized denial, Mobile Baykeeper will continue to work closely with communities, city leaders, regulators, and environmental experts to ensure that Alabama adopts a responsible and protective approach to coal ash disposal. “We will keep pushing until coal ash in Alabama is disposed of safely — well away from our waterways. Our rivers, our wildlife, and our people deserve no less,” Kistler says. 

Read the official EPA release here

For interview requests, please contact Caine O’Rear, Mobile Baykeeper at corear@mobilebaykeeper.org, or at 615-975-5777. 

Together, We’ve Been Fighting for a Long Time.



2024
The EPA announces that Alabama’s permitting program for coal ash storage is not in compliance with the federal coal-ash rules

Learn More
2024
Alabama Power’s Recycling Announcement:
Plans to recycle the coal ash at Plant Barry.

Learn More
2024
Judge Dubose dismisses Baykeeper’s federal lawsuit.

Learn More
2023
EPA Denies ADEM Permitting Program:
A significant regulatory development.

Learn More
2022
Lawsuit Against Alabama Power:
Baykeeper and SELC sue over illegal coal ash plan.

Learn More
2021
ADEM Approves Alabama Power’s Plan:
Greenlighting the “cap in place” strategy for the coal ash pond.

Learn More
2020
Public Hearings by ADEM:
Thousands of Alabamians say they do not approve of coal ash pond closure plans.
2019
Plans to Leave Ash In Place:
Despite threats to safety and waterways, Alabama Power submits plans to keep ash in place.

Read More
2018
Baykeeper Pollution Report:
Highlighting ongoing water pollution and potential risks of dam failure affecting the Delta and Mobile Bay.

Read our Report
2016-2018
Alabama Regulation Advocacy:
Pushing for Alabama’s environmental agency to ensure the ash will be stored safely.
2015
Coal Ash Rule:
Implementation of federal regulations on coal ash.

First Meeting with Alabama Power:
Starting direct engagement on coal ash issues.

First Sampling Efforts:
Baykeeper begins investigative efforts in coal ash data gathering.
2008
Kingson Coal Ash Spill:
A catalyst for increased awareness and advocacy in coal ash management.

Read the Story

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