EPA Admits: No End in Sight for Developing Coal Ash Regulations

If there was ever any doubt that Congress should act now to create coal ash disposal regulations, a recent court filing spells out the truth: Four years after the highly publicized failure of a disposal impoundment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is nowhere near completing regulations it initially promised within a year.

The consequences for coal ash recycling are severe. The regulatory uncertainty created by EPA’s ongoing threat of an unwarranted “hazardous waste” designation for disposed coal ash is already harming recycling. It now appears that only Congress is in a position to eliminate that regulatory uncertainty and move forward with substantive disposal regulations that will protect the environment.

In a court filing in October, a senior official of the EPA declared that the Agency will need at least another year or more to complete a Proposed Final Rule on coal ash regulations. EPA repeated its assertion that the 450,000 public comments already in its rulemaking record require more time to analyze. But then the Agency went one more, indicating that 450,000 comments apparently do not provide enough information to make a decision. Instead, EPA plans to issue a second Notice of Data Availability to incorporate additional information into the record.

The full text of EPA’s declaration is here.

EPA commenced formulation of coal ash disposal regulations in January 2009 and issued a Draft Proposed Rule for public comment in June of 2010. The Agency, however, has no legislative or judicial mandate to enact regulations on any timetable. Meanwhile, coal ash recycling suffers and national standards for coal ash disposal remain absent.

Posted by: on: Nov 01, 2012 @ 10:32