The coal ash is dumped in landfills with little to no required safeguards, leading to contaminated soil and groundwater.
Now the Environmental Protection Agency is looking at regulating coal ash for the first time.
A recent study by Earthjustice found that a coal ash site at the Fayette Power Project in LaGrange, 75 miles southeast of Austin, is contaminating two creeks with arsenic.
"In Texas, if a coal plant creates this dangerous waste, it's pretty much allowed to dispose of the waste as pleases. Particularly when Texas plants put there waste in waste ponds, there are no regulations requiring liners, monitoring. People really won't know what the adverse impacts are that way."
The electric power industry is lobbying to keep regulation up to individual states.
The EPA public hearing is in Dallas on Wednesday.