Coal Ash Industry Seeks to Avoid Designation as Hazardous Waste

Date: February 6, 2009

Source: News Room

The coal ash industry is lobbying to counter a push by environmental groups to designate ash as a "hazardous waste," touting greenhouse gas (GHG) reducing benefits that would be lost if the EPA were to act on long-dormant proposals to impose strict disposal regulations in the wake of a recent massive ash spill at a TVA site in Tennessee. The American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) and others argue that ash reprocessing lowers emissions and should qualify for carbon offset credits in upcoming climate legislation. Coal ash can is used in place of Portland cement for some construction purposes. Hypothetically, manufacturing a ton of ash-based cement avoids the release of a ton of CO2 into the atmosphere. Regulating it as a hazardous waste would destroy the ash-reprocessing industry.

The coal ash industry faces looming threats of government intervention, through either Congress or EPA. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, has introduced a bill that would institute uniform, nationwide standards governing the storage of coal ash; a release from the congressman's office unveiling the legislation chastised EPA for failing "to control how coal ash is stored or used, or even classify coal ash waste as a hazardous waste." Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), meanwhile, has convened oversight hearings in her Environment & Public Works Committee to examine the aftermath of the TVA spill, and she pressed then EPA Administrator-nominee Lisa Jackson to revisit the question of whether coal ash should be considered a hazardous waste.

American Coal Ash Association:

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