Commentary

Representative Diana DeGette Votes Against Protecting People from Coal Ash

[Editor’s Note:  Read the latest ClimateWest update on this post here.]

Colorado Representative Diana DeGette voted on July 13 for a bill that, in the words of Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey, would give a “green-light pass for utility companies to dispose of their waste without regard to public health or the environment.”

According to the official roll, Representative Diana DeGette was one of six Democrats who joined in voting with Republicans to undermine efforts to protect the public from toxic coal ash.

Put simply, H.R. 2273 prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash.  Even though coal ash is known to contain toxic compounds, H.R. 2273 would actually classify coal ash as “beneficial” and ease disposal standards.

Whatever Representative DeGette was thinking in casting her vote, one thing is clear:  she threw the public under the bus on this one, apparently in an effort to appease coal industry lobbyists.  Maybe it’s not a surprise.  Her former Environmental Legislative Director, Steven Plevniak, is now a lobbyist with Xcel Energy, which of course is the largest utility in Colorado and burns more coal in Colorado than any other utility.  Not surprisingly, Steve is listed in Xcel’s records as a lobbyist on coal ash issues (see p. 4 of Xcel’s latest lobbying report).

So, perhaps chalk this up to Representative DeGette doing a little favor for Steve and Xcel.  If that’s the case, shame on you Representative DeGette, your constituents deserve much, much better.

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