Coal power plant. Credit: VanderWolf-Images/Getty Images

An analysis from Politico found that over 100 sites storing toxic ash from coal-burning power plants are located in areas that federal emergency managers warn have a high risk of flooding.

Why it matters: Coal ash is a multibillion-dollar liability, and scientists warn that increased rain brought on by a warming climate could worsen the threat by spreading the substance into neighboring communities. The findings come as the Trump administration is looking to reverse an Obama-era regulation seeking to prevent coal-ash disasters.

  • Toxins in coal ash such as lead, arsenic, mercury and other contaminants have the potential to cause severe illnesses, including neurological damage and cancer. Officials have also warned that government-sanctioned flood maps already likely understate the potential of deluges in most of the U.S.
  • The trouble goes further, Politico notes: "Scientists say the heavier rains expected to come from a warming planet also threaten to bring a more hidden peril — rising water tables that seep into the ash impoundments, contaminating groundwater used for agriculture and drinking."

Between the lines: An Obama-era regulation limited eligible locations for storage, required utilities to track groundwater pollution near sites and provided incentives for utilities to install protective liners in their storage ponds. The Environmental Protection Agency under Trump is now moving to weaken regulations, including by "letting states waive some cleanup requirements, exclude certain contaminants from pollution programs and suspend groundwater monitoring," per Politico.

  • But, but, but: Scientists and environmentalists note that even the Obama regulations didn't fully address climate change's role in the toxic waste threat.

Go deeper: Trump's EPA swaps Obama's biggest climate policy for narrow rule

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines
  4. Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  5. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  6. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  7. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  8. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The 2020 holiday season may just kill Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Online retail and e-commerce have been chipping away at brick-and-mortar businesses over the years but the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 holiday season may prove to be a knockout blow.

State of play: Anxious consumers say financial concerns and health worries will push them to spend less money this year and to do more of their limited spending online.

California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California will "independently review" all coronavirus vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration before allowing their distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: The move that comes days after NAID director Anthony Fauci said he had "strong confidence" in FDA-approved vaccines could cast further public doubt that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives, rather than safety and efficacy.