Happy Earth Day with a Positive Coal Ash Message from EPA!

Monday is Earth Day – and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delivered a gift to coal ash recyclers just in time: On Friday, the Agency sent a clear signal that it is moving away from its earlier proposal to regulate coal ash as a “hazardous waste.”

The announcement showed up on page 52 of a related rulemaking proposal that was released on April 19. After announcing that the Agency intends to “align” proposed new Clean Water Act regulations for coal ash disposal with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act coal ash rulemaking that began in 2010, EPA said this:

“Although a final risk assessment for the CCR rule has not yet been completed, reliance on the data and analyses discussed above may have the potential to lower the CCR rule risk assessment results by as much as an order of magnitude. If this proves to be the case, EPA’s current thinking is that, the revised risks, coupled with the ELG requirements that the Agency may promulgate, and the increased Federal oversight such requirements could achieve, could provide strong support for a conclusion that regulation of CCR disposal under RCRA Subtitle D would be adequate.”

The statement is the clearest and most public indication yet that EPA is moving away from the option of regulating coal ash disposal under Subtitle C, which governs hazardous waste.

With this announcement, EPA has sent a positive message to recycling markets that the Agency’s earlier proposal to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste was ill-conceived, unwarranted and ultimately unnecessary. Citizens for Recycling First hopes the Agency will follow through with even more definitive statements. We can’t help but notice that EPA’s key paragraph contains two ‘mays,’ two ‘coulds,’ a ‘potential,’ an ‘if,’ and a ‘current thinking is.’  What coal ash recyclers need next from Washington is regulatory certainty, which means statements of what will happen rather than what might happen.

Posted by: on: Apr 22, 2013 @ 12:09