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Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe
Senate Environment and Public Works Full Committee hearing
Oversight Hearing on the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Recent Major Coal Ash Spill
Thursday, January 8, 2009
What happened at Kingston was a tragedy, plain and simple. We do not yet know what caused the failure of the retaining wall that released over a billion gallons of coal combustion waste sludge into the surrounding area, including the Emery river. Thankfully, there were no injuries, but three homes were rendered uninhabitable and there was some additional property damage.
I want to make sure that these people are taken care of and that this spill is cleaned up. My first concern is for the victims, some of whom I understand are here today. My heart goes out to you and I will work to make sure you are treated fairly.
I believe that, to the extent the incident has caused harm to public health and the environment, TVA is committed to take the necessary steps to address these problems. It is essential that TVA remains committed to this community long after the media has packed up and left town.
I am pleased the results of air, water and soil testing meet EPA standards. I hope, Mr. Kilgore, that you elaborate on these and planned future testing in your remarks.
In light of this, I also hope that certain extremist groups refrain from exploiting this incident to further a political objective, namely to eradicate the use of coal in this country. We all know that would be a disaster for energy security, for jobs, and for the health of our economy. We know how to use coal in a clean manner. And as new technologies continue to advance, we can use coal to power the American economy while maintaining a clean, healthy environment.