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Report: Trump EPA won’t limit cancer causing chemicals found in Alabama water

Josh Moon



Drink at your own risk.

That is essentially the message that the Trump EPA is planning for citizens who might consume drinking water contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. Politico reported Thursday that the EPA doesn’t plan to set limits on the amount of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) found in drinking water.

That would leave the chemicals unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and would allow water companies to continue not testing and removing PFAS from drinking water supplied to consumers.

The plan has not yet been made public. Politico quoted two sources within the EPA, and noted that even Republicans who were briefed on the plan expressed skepticism.

Two years ago, residents in North Alabama were warned not to drink their tap water following a report that found excessive levels of PFAS in drinking water. Legal action is currently in the early stages in Morgan and Lawrence counties, as they attempt to force 3M and other companies to help pay the bill for millions of dollars worth filtration systems and cleanup costs.

That decision could potentially save major corporations that used the chemicals and the U.S. Department of Defense billions of dollars in legal fees and cleanup costs.

PFAS contamination has been proven to cause cancer and various other health issues. 3M and other companies have argued, however, that the concentrations of the chemicals now present in the environment isn’t high enough to cause illness.

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Courts relying on testimony from independent scientists, though, have decided differently.

Already 3M has paid out more than a $1 billion in damages after some states and private citizens filed lawsuits against the chemical giant. There is currently a large class-action lawsuit ongoing involving nine chemical manufacturers, including 3M and Dupont, and legal experts predict it will result in a huge settlement or verdict.

Government regulators have also shifted their guidance on PFAS contaminants in recent years, as more current and thorough data has become available. An EPA report in 2016, just prior to energy lobbyist Scott Pruitt being appointed by Trump as EPA director, found that even small traces of PFAS in drinking water could, after years of exposure, cause a multitude of problems, particularly to pregnant mothers.


A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control last year went a step further and lowered the exposure rates necessary to cause harm. Pruitt attempted to block the release of that report, Politico reported.

And now, current EPA director Andrew Wheeler, another energy lobbyist who has not yet been confirmed by the Senate, is planning to issue no guidance on the chemicals.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.



State shuts down flounder harvest in November

Brandon Moseley



Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Resources Division reminded saltwater fishermen that harvesting any flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) during the month of November is forbidden.

“The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Marine Resources Division (MRD) would like to remind anglers of the flounder changes that were adopted on August 1, 2019,” the MRD announced. “Flounder will be closed for harvest during the entire month of November for both commercial and recreational fishermen.”

Fishermen can resume harvesting flounders December 1, 2020, at 12:01am.

The MRD reminds saltwater anglers that the recreational size limit for flounder is 14 inches total length, and the daily bag limit is five per person. The commercial size limit is 14 inches total length with a daily limit of 40 per person or 40 per vessel.

According to NOAA’s 2019 stock assessment, summer flounder are not overfished and are not subject to overfishing. Scientists at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center estimate the abundance of summer flounder using data collected during their annual bottom trawl surveys, along with data from state- and university-run surveys.

The summer flounder stock declined to record lows in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With improved reproduction and survival rates and sustainable management, spawning stock biomass (a measure of the amount of summer flounder able to reproduce) has increased substantially.

Alabama is a sportsman’s paradise with year round freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, and hunting opportunities. Hunting and fishing are activities that the whole family can enjoy while still social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Remember that you must have a valid license to hunt or fish. You can get the appropriate licenses online.

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The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is tasked with promoting wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

You can learn more about ADCNR at

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ADEM director weighs-in on coal ash pond closures

APR spoke with ADEM Director Lance LeFleur to understand the process and how the public could be assured that steps taken would lead to a safe and effective outcome.

Bill Britt



ADEM Director Lance LeFleur

Over the next few weeks, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management will hold public hearings on the regulated closures of three coal combustion residuals storage sites, commonly referred to as coal ash ponds.

While ADEM receives high marks from federal regulators and businesses within Alabama, there is always a certain skepticism that surrounds environmental issues both on the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Recently, APR spoke with ADEM Director Lance LeFleur to understand the process and how the public could be assured that steps taken would lead to a safe and effective outcome.

“I know that there’s skepticism about government,” LeFleur said. “And it’s healthy to have skepticism about government, state governments, local government, federal government. Skepticism is part of how we operate.” But LeFleur wants the public to know that ADEM’s first purpose is Alabamians’ health and safety.

“Our mission is to ensure for all Alabamians a safe, healthful and productive environment,” LeFleur said. “It’s a mission that ADEM and its nearly 600 employees take very seriously.”

LeFleur says while there are many competing sides to the issues that arise from coal ash disposal, ADEM must focus on “science and the laws.”

According to LeFleur, there are two primary issues that must be addressed when closing coal ash ponds: “avoid threats of spills into waterways or onto land, and preventing and cleaning up groundwater contamination from arsenic, mercury, lead and other hazardous elements that may leach from the coal ash.”

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EPA does not classify coal residue as hazardous waste, but LeFleur says that all closures must ensure dangerous elements are not leaching down into the groundwater.

“I think there’s pretty much unanimous opinion that these coal ash ponds need to be closed; they need to be closed properly,” said LeFleur. “And we need to clean up the groundwater that’s in place.”

He says that the entire process will take decades, but the power companies have committed to safely closing the coal ash ponds. “We are dealing with power companies that are going to be around for a long time. And they, they are obligated to get the result right,” said LeFleur.


Alabama currently has 14 regulated CCR units at eight sites throughout the state. They are comprised of 10 unlined surface impoundments, one lined landfill, one lined surface impoundment all closed, and two lined landfills still in operation.

Public hearings are a significant part of the permit granting process, according to LeFleur, and ADEM’s website allows any individual to review every document and comment about a coal ash pond’s closing.

“You can see all of the comments that we received,” LeFleur said. “Every issue raised during the comment period and written response to comments are available.” ADEM’s website also includes the closure plans as well as all correspondence between agency and utility companies.

According to ADEM, the purpose of these hearings is to allow the public, including nearby residents, environmental groups, and others, opportunities to weigh in on the proposed permits.

“This past summer, Alabama Power, TVA, and PowerSouth held informational meetings in the communities where their affected plants are located to explain their proposed groundwater cleanup plan —including the CCR unit closure component— and answer residents’ questions,” said LeFleur.

Closing a unit requires months of planning with ADEM engineers to make sure all procedures are followed correctly. Federal rules for closing CCRs have only been around since April 2015, when EPA released final measures for management and disposal of CCRs from electric utilities. In 2018, ADEM issued its state CCR rule, which closely tracks the federal regulations.

Under both Presidents Obama and Trump, the EPA has allowed for coal ash sites to be closed by two methods — closure in place and by removal.

Alabama’s utilities have chosen the cap in place method. Some environmental groups prefer removal. But estimates say that moving CCRs from Alabama Power’s Plant Barry would take around 30 years with trucks leaving the site every six minutes.

“Regardless of which method of closure is used, that process will take a couple of years to accomplish at these sites,” said LeFleur. “If it’s kept in place, the material has been de-watered then pushed together to create a smaller footprint, and then that will be covered with an impervious cover.”

The objective, according to ADEM, is to protect the groundwater and the environment from pollution.

Power providers and environmentalists seem to agree there isn’t a perfect solution. Public hearings are to ensure that community voices and those of environmentalists are heard.

“This entire process is designed to stop contamination to groundwater and future contamination to groundwater; those are the most important facts now,” said LeFleur. “There are always political issues, you know, at least two sides, and sometimes there’s three, four or five sides. We focus on science and the laws. That’s what we do.”

While ADEM has its critics, it receives a high rating from the EPA, and an annual survey by the Alabama Department of Commerce finds that it gets top marks from business and industry in the state.

ADEM’s first public hearing on coal ash permits will be held Tuesday, Oct. 20, for Alabama Power’s Miller Steam Plant in west Jefferson County. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the West Jefferson Town Hall. Other upcoming hearings are Thursday, Oct. 22, for Plant Greene County located in Greene County and Oct. 29 for Plant Gadsden in Etowah County.

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Bow season begins today

Archery deer season opens in most of the state — zones A, B and C — on Oct. 15, 2020.

Brandon Moseley




On Thursday, bow hunting season for deer opens across the state of Alabama, though it has already begun in some areas of the state.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has divided the state into five separate hunting zones for whitetail deer. Be aware of where in the state you are at all times because different rules can and do apply. Some counties have as many as three of the state’s five hunting zones.

Hunters in the newly created zones D and E began bow hunting back on Oct. 1.

Zone D includes parts of Cullman, Franklin, Lawrence and Winston counties. Zone D allows for bow hunting for either sex from Oct. 1 to Jan. 15. Hunters can take antlered bucks from Oct. 1 to Jan. 27. Gun deer season for antlered bucks will open in zone D on Nov. 7, 2020.

Zone E includes areas in Barbour, Calhoun, Cleburne and Russell counties. Zone D allows for bow hunting for either sex from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15. Hunters can take antlered bucks from Oct. 1 to Jan. 27. Gun deer season for antlered bucks will open in zone E on Nov. 7, 2020.

Archery deer season opens in most of the state — zones A, B and C — on Oct. 15, 2020.

Archery season for both sexes in Zone A, the largest of the hunting zones, lasts from Oct. 15 to Feb. 10, 2021. Gun season in zone A for either sex runs from Nov. 21 to Feb. 10, 2021.

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Archery season in zone B goes from Oct. 15 to Feb. 10 for antlered bucks. For either sex from Oct. 25 to Feb. 10. Gun season in zone B is from Nov. 21 to Feb. 10.

Zone C consists of parts of St. Clair, Jefferson, Blount, Cullman, Etowah, Morgan, Winston, Marshall, Dekalb, Jackson, Lawrence, Franklin and Marion Counties.

Bow season in zone C for either sex runs from Oct. 15 to Feb. 10, 2021. Gun season in zone C for antlered bucks only is from Nov. 21 to Feb. 10, 2021. Hunters may take either sex with a gun in zone C from Nov. 21 to Nov. 29 and Dec. 19 to Jan. 1, 2021.


You must purchase a license to hunt in the state of Alabama and you must report any and all deer taken to the state. Wildlife biologists use the data to set future hunting zones and harvest limits. For complete deer season dates and zone information, visit the Outdoor Alabama website.

“The creation of these new deer zones highlights the hard work of our wildlife managers and the importance of harvest data provided by Alabama’s hunters,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “The Department strives to offer the best hunting opportunities available.”

Whitetail deer are the largest game species in the state with a harvestable population. Hunting for whitetail deer is the most popular of the hunting sports in Alabama. Hunting and fishing are a fun activity the whole family can enjoy, while social distancing due to the coronavirus global pandemic.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

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Gov. Kay Ivey declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Delta

Delta is the 25th named storm and the ninth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

Eddie Burkhalter



Satellite images of Hurricane Delta nearing the Gulf of Mexico. (VIA NOAA/NHC)

Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday signed a state of emergency declaration as Hurricane Delta grew into a category four storm, threatening to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast just weeks after Hurricane Sally devastated Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

“As our coastal areas are still recovering from Hurricane Sally, another system, Hurricane Delta, is making its way toward the Gulf Coast and could potentially have a significant impact on Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement. “Therefore, I signed a State of Emergency to begin Alabama’s preparation process and position us to be able to declare a pre-landfall disaster declaration with FEMA.  As residents along the Gulf Coast know all too well, these storms are unpredictable, and I strongly encourage everyone to take Hurricane Delta seriously. We are keeping a close eye on this approaching storm and we will continue providing all necessary updates.”

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting that Hurricane Delta could make landfall along Louisiana’s coast sometime Saturday with the hurricane’s sustained winds covering large swaths of lower Alabama. It is likely move further into Alabama as it continues.

Delta is the 25th named storm and the ninth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, making this year one of the most active seasons in recent history. Delta is the earliest 25th named storm on record and the third major hurricane in the Atlantic this year.

The Hurricane Center on Tuesday morning warned of an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds from Hurricane Delta beginning Friday, especially along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, though its track could change.

The National Weather Service’s Mobile office on Tuesday forecasted that Hurricane Delta will turn north over the central Gulf and then northeast before making landfall late this week.

“However, even if Delta makes landfall well to our west, the local area will still see a threat for storm surge, dangerous surf/rip currents, heavy rain, strong winds, and isolated tornadoes. Please continue to check back for forecast updates,” the NWS office in Mobile said.

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Homeowners and businesses are still piecing back together their properties and lives after Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores on Sept. 16.

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