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Bill Blocking Coal Ash ‘Hazardous Waste’ Designation Headed to House Floor

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on July 13 approved a bill that would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash disposal as a “hazardous waste” while simultaneously directing states to enact enforceable permit programs modeled after successful municipal solid waste programs.

HR 2273 – the “Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act” – was approved by a 35-12 vote of the committee after extensive negotiations to ensure that the bill was bipartisan.  All Republicans on the committee voted for the bill and were joined by Democrats Gene Green (TX), Diana DeGette (CO), Mike Doyle (PA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Mike Ross (AR) and John Barrow (GA).

The bill now heads to the floor for a vote by the entire House of Representatives. People concerned about preserving coal ash recycling should call their Congressional representatives and urge them to vote YES on HR 2273.

HR 2273 was initiated in April when Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) filed another bill – HR 1391 – which simply would have prohibited EPA from regulating coal ash disposal as a “hazardous waste.” (See previous blog post here.Following a subcommittee hearing on that bill, Members of Congress began to develop a more comprehensive approach that mandates a state-administered permit program to create enforceable requirements for groundwater monitoring, lining of landfills, corrective action when environmental damage occurs and structural criteria. That approach became HR 2273.

A key part of HR 2273 provides that if a state is unable or unwilling to implement the permit program, the federal EPA would have authority to do so. HR 2273 was approved by the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on June 21.  A vote by the full Energy and Commerce Committee was delayed twice while Republicans and Democrats made further modifications to the bill to address concerns raised by the Democrats.

The bill now moving to the House floor creates a state-administered program for regulating coal ash disposal similar to the program states use to regulate disposal of municipal solid waste.  For a discussion of why household garbage is actually more challenging to dispose than coal ash, click here.

A complete copy of HR 2273 as approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee can be found here. 

For more information about the Committee hearings that have taken place, click here. For information about the previous bill, HR 1391, including a list of the 63 bipartisan co-sponsors it attracted, click here.

Posted by: on: Jul 15, 2011 @ 09:58