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September 04, 2013

Kayaks Are a Winning Formula in Fight Against Coal


Sometimes the best way to make a statement is to do it in a kayak.

Sierra Club activists from the Pittsburgh area were joined recently by allies from Clean Water Action, the Center for Coalfield Justice, and Three Rivers Waterkeeper at Point State Park -- where the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela rivers meet -- to push for Pennsylvania to move beyond coal. Taking the lead from Tennessee volunteers last month, nearly 30 clean-water advocates gathered and a dozen took to kayaks and canoes. 

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"It was a beautiful day, a really fun event, and all who participated had a great time," said Sierra Club Organizer Randy Francisco.

Part of the objective was to highlight the recent release of a major Sierra Club report that detailed the extent of Big Coal's water pollution. Weak decades-old water standards have failed to protect families and communities for too long. 

“The reason we’re here today is because we love our rivers,” Clean Water Action's Tom Hoffman said at the event. “They're a huge part of our economy, but we've not been good stewards. Every year billions of tons of toxic waste from coal plants gets dumped in our rivers.”

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Among the report's findings: Seventy percent of the 274 coal plants that discharge coal ash into U.S. waterways have no toxic limits; more than one-third have no requirements to monitor or report discharges of these toxic metals to government agencies or the public; and nearly half of the coal plants surveyed in the report are currently operating with an expired Clean Water Act permit.

The event was covered by local TV stations and the Associated Press. Organizers are collecting comments to be delivered to the EPA later this month in advance of the anticipated revised coal-pollution rules.

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Congratulations to our supporters and allies in the Pittsburgh area for keeping the pressure on coal companies to clean up their act! 

-- Brian Foley


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