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Coal Ash

22 Major Institutional Investors Comment on Proposed EPA Rules for Coal Ash Disposal on “CSR Minute.”

In 2010, As You Sow filed the first shareholder proposals on coal ash. Shareholders displayed record support for our resolutions at coal-burning utilities MDU Resources Group and CMS Energy, at 43% and 40% respectively. Our proposals asked the utilities to reduce the environmental and health hazards associated with coal combustion waste – including waste ponds, impoundments, and mines – and ensure that their coal ash is recycled, and done so in an environmentally safe manner.

  • MDU Resources Group (Montana-Dakota Utilities Company): MDU generates, transmits, and distributes electricity to more than 250 communities. They are the lead developer in the Big Stone II coal plant from which three other power companies have withdrawn due to the risk involved. MDU’s energy mix includes 54% coal. Read the 2010 proposal here.

  • CMS Energy (Consumers Energy): CMS is one of the nation’s largest combination utilities serving more than 6 million people. CMS is the lead developer in a coal plant near Bay City, Michigan, a plant that the Michigan Public Service Commission staff considers unnecessary. CMS’s energy mix includes 47.5% coal. Read the 2010 proposal here.

As You Sow also coordinated an investor letter, representing over $240 billion in assets under management, to the EPA in support of the "Subtitle C" regulations governing coal ash disposal. For more coverage of the letter, see the video above from "CSR Minute."


The ash residue from coal combustion contains arsenic, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals. Disposal of this residue is currently not regulated and is stored in open ponds where it can leach into ground water. Coal combustion waste (both in the air and the ash) has been linked to cancer, organ failure, and other serious health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that “Pollutants in coal combustion wastewater are of particular concern because they can occur in large quantities (i.e., total pounds) and at high concentrations …in discharges and leachate to groundwater and surface waters.”

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