The gist of the bill:
COAL is the cheapest source of electricity. One major reason why is that mining companies and coal-burning utilities have managed to pass many of its health and environmental costs - from the dust miners breathe to greenhouse gases - onto society at large. The latest demonstration of this came in Tennessee just before Christmas, when a lake of coal fly ash broke through its earthen dam and oozed out over 300 acres, damaging or destroying at least 15 houses.The Globe neglected to mention the fact that the fly-ash bill is revenue neutral, which is especially important in this fiscal crisis we're living in.
In Massachusetts, where fly ash from the Salem power plant once contaminated the Lake Wenham water supply of Beverly, ash that is not reused in concrete production or other beneficial applications ends up in lined and covered landfills. Even in this state, though, there is no law mandating safe disposal. A bill co-sponsored by Representatives Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead and Mary Grant of Beverly would do so.
Disclosure: I live in Ehrlich's district and volunteered on her special election and general election campaigns, both taking place in '08.