The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general reported this week that the EPA had improperly used an official website to promote ways of recycling the waste that's left over when power plants burn coal, commonly known as coal ash.
The inspector general's report says the website didn't tell the public that the EPA had decided that coal ash no longer should be dumped in empty pits and that it had concerns about the safety of other uses of the material in loose form, such as fertilizer and road fill.
The waste contains arsenic and other metals that can cause cancer and damage the nervous system in people who drink contaminated water, and it can kill fish and other aquatic life. The inspector general's report also says the EPA should have mentioned on the website that it had found seven cases of large-scale dumping of coal ash that had caused damage to health and the environment.
In other environmental action related to coal, the EPA's Region 3 on Friday recommended denying a permit for one of the largest mountaintop-removal coal mines ever planned, the Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia.