Activists and Industry Urge Court to Reject EPA Timeline for Coal Ash Rule

Date: December 10, 2012

Source: News Room

Environmental groups and coal ash recyclers are suing the EPA and urging a federal court to reject the agency's request for additional time to finish its long-delayed ash disposal rule. The groups include Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environmental Integrity Project, and others, along with recyclers Headwaters Resources Inc. and Boral Materials Technologies Inc. are suing EPA in the consolidated case Appalachian Voices, et al. v. Lisa Jackson in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to force a hard deadline to determine how the agency plans to regulate coal combustion residuals (CCR), otherwise known as coal ash.

The environmentalists argue that further delay is causing increased environmental contamination, while the recyclers say that regulatory uncertainty hinders beneficial reuse of the material, especially out of concern that EPA might label it a hazardous material. Since 2010, EPA has proposed to regulate coal ash under either subtitle C hazardous waste rules or less stringent solid waste rules under subtitle D. That came in response to the massive Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill in December 2008. EPA said in an Oct. brief that a six-month deadline sought by environmentalists was inadequate and that it would need at least a year to take comment on recent data and unresolved concerns related to regulation along with "substantial additional time" once it is complete to conduct a rulemaking, pushing any potential rule into at least 2014.

"There is no practical reason why the Agency cannot complete analyses that are already well underway and issue new rules reflecting any necessary revisions within six months of a ruling," said the environmental groups in a Nov. 20 brief.

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