U.S. Water News Online
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Alabama Environmental Management
Commission denied a petition by environmental groups that urged the
state to adopt stricter standards to protect its waterways from
After its unanimous vote, the commission will allow a committee to
review Alabama's water quality standards and report its findings in
"The petition has been denied, it has not been killed," said Dr.
Laurel Gardner, a member of the commission. "It's still very much
The groups that filed the petition had asked that Alabama join 28
other states that require carcinogen levels in streams to be low
enough that no more than one in one million people could get cancer
Alabama uses a less protective risk factor that allows one in
100,000 people to get cancer.
At present, only Alabama and Tennessee, among Southeastern states,
have standards less stringent than the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency recommendation of one in a million for carcinogens found in
A coalition that includes the Alabama Rivers Alliance and
Conservation Alabama had sought a tougher rule by adopting the EPA
EPA allows states to use either standard, but most use the more
Alabama Power Co., the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama
Coal Association and the Alabama Pulp and Paper Council all objected
to stricter pollution rules.
The Business Council objected to "a significant financial impact
on the Alabama business community" and stated that the petitioners
failed to justify the additional expense on industry.
Clean water advocates said they were disappointed the commission
discussed the economics of regulation so much and the cost of cancer
"It was a loss for public health," said Cindy Lowry, executive
director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance.
"Good intentions and hopeful words don't prevent people from
getting cancer. As this commission pursues more study, more people
are going to get cancer, and more people are going to die," said
David Ludder, the lawyer representing the environmental groups.
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