State Rep. Pat Boy advocates for clean drinking water supplies

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Pat Boy (D-Michigan City) today presented an amendment to Senate Bill 271 to protect Indiana's groundwater resources and drinking water supplies from arsenic and lead contamination by coal plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that the groundwater supply near many of Indiana's coal-fired power plants contains a dangerous mixture of chemicals, including arsenic, mercury, radium and lead, in the coal ash produced by these plants. These chemicals seep into the ground and go on to contaminate nearby drinking water supplies.

Boy's amendment would have prevented the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) from approving the closure of any disposal structure containing coal combustion residuals if any one of those residuals was in contact with groundwater. Boy hoped this amendment would push more plants to install liners in their coal ash pits, which reduce the amount of contaminates able to reach water supplies.

“There are hundreds of Hoosiers drinking arsenic and lead every single day because these plants don't contain their pollution,” Boy said.

“As the climate crisis worsens, we are at risk of greater natural disasters, including floods or structure failures like they had in North Carolina and Kentucky, which caused widespread environmental and economic damage to nearby waterways and properties. If these chemicals are present in our water supplies and those supplies flood, the danger is pushed out into even more drinking water supplies. That's more Hoosiers – more children, more workers, more leaders – drinking cancer-causing chemicals.”

After a last-minute email from IDEM, Boy withdrew the amendment from consideration to prevent an unintended consequence of its language preventing any closure, even one by removal of the coal combustion residuals. Boy urged the House to keep this issue in mind and to take action as the legislative session continues.

“Indiana has over 80 coal ash pits, all adding to this environmental crisis,” Boy added. “The longer we delay action, the more damage will be done.”

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