Tennessean: Sen. Lamar Alexander wants coal ash hearing in TN

Senator says EPA needs residents' perspective

Posted on September 1, 2010

Sen. Lamar Alexander is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to hold an extra hearing in Tennessee on regulation of coal ash, following criticism from environmentalists.

Alexander said in a letter sent Tuesday to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson that a hearing should be held in Roane County to get Tennesseans' perspective.

"Having hearings on coal ash without asking Tennesseans what they think would be like having hearings on Katrina without asking people in New Orleans what they think or on the oil spill without asking people who live on the Gulf what they think," Alexander said in an interview.

The EPA is scheduled to hold seven hearings — all of them in Washington — on coal ash disposal after the December 2008 spill at a TVA coal-burning power plant that dumped 5.4 million cubic yards of ash into the Emory and Clinch rivers.

At the first of those hearings Monday, lawmakers were scheduled to hear testimony from 200 witnesses, including representatives for environmental groups, utilities and companies that use coal waste in commercial products.

But none of the witnesses scheduled was a resident living near the disaster site, a fact faulted by environmentalists.