Diane Hofner, founder of Concerned Residents of Portland and People Like Us (CROP PLUS), has been fighting to stop the use of coal ash on roads for years because of the pollutants it contains. Feeling frustrated and burned out with little hope in sight, CROP PLUS contacted Freshwater Future for help in 2010. With help from Freshwater Future’s issue strategy Insight Services, we were able to help Diane develop a targeted plan of action to influence local decision-makers to stop the use of ash on town roads. The plan included working with the Environmental Protection Agency and New York Department of Environmental Conservation to develop guidelines that ensure protection of human health and our waters from dangerous pollutants. CROP PLUS went on to have their first victory—the Town of Portland agreed not to transport any more ash for use on roads until the EPA has developed proper guidelines.
Today’s Update: After continued work and through partnerships with groups around the nation fighting this issue, the Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA lodged a consent decree with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that requires the EPA to publish a final rule addressing the disposal of coal ash by December 19, 2014. The settlement came as a result of a lawsuit brought by ten public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes against the EPA for its failure to review and revise its regulations pertaining to coal ash. The settlement does not dictate the content of the final regulation, but it confirms that the agency will finalize a rule by a specific date after years of delay. CROP PLUS’ efforts to raise awareness about the issue and encourage action were one piece of the puzzle that together is resulting in a great victory. Way to go CROP PLUS!