Fighting Self Fulfilling Prophecies

            One of the great dangers of the current coal ash regulatory debate is that inaccurate phrases like “hazardous” and “toxic” become commonplace regardless of how the final regulations turn out.

            Case in point: Today’s Wall Street Journal contains an article by reporter Stephen Power concerning the Environmental Protection Agency’s record on enforcement of environmental regulations.  In an effort to briefly summarize controversial actions currently under way at EPA, the article says EPA has "promised new rules that would treat coal ash as hazardous waste."

            Strictly speaking, EPA has promised only to devise new regulations for coal ash disposal.  One of the roles of Citizens for Recycling First is to challenge this type of inaccuracy in news media.  Below is the full text of our letter to Mr. Power.  You can read the original article here:



Dear Mr. Power,


In your story this morning concerning EPA enforcement activity, you made the statement that EPA has "promised new rules that would treat coal ash as hazardous waste."  In fact, EPA has promised to develop new regulations for coal ash disposal, but whether those regulations will involve a hazardous waste designation is still undetermined.


I know it is difficult to briefly describe the current EPA coal ash actions, but the distinction is an important one to the people engaged in recycling more than 44 percent of the coal ash produced in the U.S. every year. Labeling coal ash as "hazardous" when destined for disposal would seriously stigmatize the material and impede its environmentally beneficial recycling.


Coal ash disposal regulations can be improved without going to the extreme of calling it hazardous. The safe recycling of coal ash should be promoted as an environmentally preferable alternative to disposal.


Thank you for your attention.  I would be happy to provide you with more information if you would like.



John Ward


Citizens for Recycling First

Posted by: on: Mar 03, 2010 @ 07:48