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House Passes Coal Combustion Residue Bill

12.01.2011

As reported in the second quarter issue of the Greenebaum Environmental Letter, last June EPA proposed to regulate coal combustion residuals (CCRs), also known as coal ash, as either hazardous under Subtitle C of RCRA or as non-hazardous under Subtitle D of RCRA.  EPA’s proposal has been criticized for imposing unnecessary costs on the management of CCRs and jeopardizing its beneficial reuse, particularly if EPA regulates CCRs as hazardous.  In June of this year, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that would treat CCRs as non-hazardous by allowing states with approved municipal solid waste programs to adopt and implement CCR permit programs.  H.R. 2273 establishes minimum criteria for state permitting programs such as location, design, groundwater monitoring, closure and financial assurance for landfills, surface impoundments or other land based units receiving coal combustion residuals.

Pursuant to the bill, the role of EPA would be receipt of certification and verification from a state that its permit program meets the minimum criteria in the bill.  EPA would notify a state of any deficiencies identified in the state program from the legislative criteria and would provide the state an opportunity to cure those deficiencies.  EPA would not implement a state program unless a state declined to adopt or implement a program or if a state failed to remedy deficiencies in its program that did not meet the legislated criteria.  Enforcement of the program would be vested with the implementing state and the bill would not afford EPA concurrent enforcement authority.  EPA would, however, retain its imminent hazard authority under RCRA Section 7003 to take action with regard to a unit that may pose an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment.

Governor Steve Beshear encouraged members of the Kentucky Congressional delegation to support H.R. 2273 in August and described the bill as a “logical, protective approach to managing CCRs without the negative impacts that will result from the EPA’s proposed rule.”  Despite opposition from the White House issued in a Statement of Administration Policy on October 12, the House passed H.R. 2273 on October 14, 2011.  H.R. 2273 was received in the Senate on October 17 and a companion bill, S. 1751, was introduced on October 20, 2011.


To view a complete PDF of the Third/Fourth Quarter 2011 issue of the Environmental Letter, click HERE.

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