Environmental Groups Push EPA to Set Deadline for Coal Ash Regulations

Date: August 17, 2012

Source: News Room

Environmental groups including Earthjustice and others are urging a federal district court to set a deadline for EPA to review its regulations on coal ash disposal and whether to regulate the ash as a hazardous waste. The industry, including those who recycle ash into cement and other products, strongly oppose a hazardous designation and want EPA to decide within three months about how it will proceed. They argue that the EPA's delay is "has created uncertainty in the beneficial use marketplace." Both groups say EPA has failed to meet a requirement under section 2002(b) of RCRA on reviewing its regulatory policy on ash. Last week, a bipartisan group of 24 senators, seeking to head off the agency, introduced a bill giving states primary authority on ash rules. The section requires EPA to review, and if necessary revise, all rules issued under the law at least every three years. EPA has not completed a review of its coal ash rules since 2000.

In June 2010, EPA proposed to regulate CCR as either hazardous waste subject to strict disposal controls under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), or less-stringent subtitle D solid waste rules. But the agency has stalled on issuing a final rule, saying it needs to first complete a coal ash risk assessment. Environmentalists favor more stringent subtitle C rules deemed vital to prevent a repeat of the massive Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill in December 2008. Conversely, the coal-fired power industry and many states favor subtitle D rules and recyclers warn that a hazardous designation would stigmatize beneficial reuse.


PRESS RELEASE
August 2, 2012

New Legislation a Dangerous Giveaway to Coal Industry

  • - Leaves communities living near coal ash sites severely at risk

Washington, D.C. The following statement is from Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club regarding the introduction today of the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2012, legislation in the U.S. Senate dealing with the disposal of toxic coal ash:

"This legislation purports to be a compromise between a terrible bill that passed the House of Representatives and a bill protecting public health. Unfortunately, this bill protects polluter profits and fails to ensure protection of public health. Without any enforceable deadlines to permit or close coal ash dumps, weak cleanup standards and a permanent ban on the EPA to ever set federally enforceable safeguards, the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2012 is a sham.

"Nearly 200 coal ash dump sites have contaminated water with pollutants like arsenic, selenium and lead. While this legislation makes some improvements to the House-passed bill, it leaves at-risk communities facing a coal ash program that is not required to protect human health or the environment nowhere to turn if their state cares more about catering to the coal industry than protecting their families.

"Coal ash is poisoning communities. In 2008, a coal ash pond in Tennessee collapsed, destroying 300 acres and two dozen homes. How many more ticking time bombs are out there just waiting to fail? Without enforceable federal safeguards, vulnerable communities living near these sites will never know the answer.

"The EPA has had a plan to regulate coal ash for over two years. They need to finish the job and not leave it to polluters to cause more problems. Coal ash communities deserve clean water and a guarantee of public safety. The Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act will not make that happen."

Contact:
Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5213
Jennifer Peters, Clean Water Action (202) 895-0420, ext. 105
Eric Schaeffer, Environmental Integrity Project (202) 296-8800
Scott Slesinger, NRDC (202) 289-2402
Eitan Bencuya, Sierra Club (202) 495-3047

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