Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Statement from Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell on the Coal Ash Bill

Oct 14, 2011
Press Release

Washington, DC—Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell released the following statement after voting against H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act:

“Today I voted against H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act.  This bill would allow each state the authority to issue permits for the disposal of coal ash and other coal combustion residuals, which would circumvent the federal government’s ability to create uniform standards that would protect American communities.  Likewise, this bill does not address the need for contingency plans regarding the storage and disposal of coal ash from applicants applying for permits from state agencies. 

Since the devastating Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill in Kingston, TN in 2008, we now understand that there are severe environmental and economic consequences associated with coal ash spills. The coal ash retrieved from the TVA cleanup was relocated to Perry County Alabama, which is located in the 7th Congressional District. Therefore, it is of particular concern to me, my constituents and Americans across the country that anyone seeking to locate coal ash within our communities must, at the very least, have an emergency contingency plan to address the possibility of any contamination.

Although I disagree with the bill’s underlying premise, I did offer an amendment that would have required an emergency contingency plan.  Unfortunately, this amendment was not allowed to be brought to the floor for a vote. My amendment would have required that the businesses applying for coal ash permits provide states with two critically important reports, a description of how their coal ash containment structure would protect against spills of coal combustion residuals and a plan for addressing potential spills of coal ash to minimize the impact to local residents and businesses. At a minimum, these two requirements would have helped states protect public health, jobs and the economy in the event of an unforeseen coal ash spill.

I believe that this bill is bad public policy and deleterious to our communities.  I will continue to be vigilant in my insistence that regulations regarding coal ask are stringent and protect the health and well-being of my constituents.


Contact:            Allison Abney;  (202) 225-2665;