One-Third of Congress Members Speak Up to Support Coal Ash Recycling

            In a letter to President Barack Obama, 121 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have urged the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate coal ash disposal only as a non-hazardous material.  House members signing the letter represent all parts of the country and both major political parties.

            The letter, dated March 25, was led by Pennsylvania Democrat Tim Holden, a member of both the Agriculture and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. It was signed by 36 Democrats and 85 Republicans.

            When combined with previous letters, this means a total of 139 members of the House have already written at least once in opposition to any form of “hazardous” designation for coal ash.  That is nearly one-third of the entire House of Representatives.

            Copies of numerous letters by local, state and federal elected officials opposing a “hazardous” designation can be found in the “More Info” section of the Citizens for Recycling First web site.  Here is the complete text of the most recent letter, as well as a list of the House members who signed it:


President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC  20500


Dear Mr. President:


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has indicated its intent to issue new rules in the next few months for the management of coal ash, also known as coal combustion byproducts (CCB) that results from using coal to generate electricity and whether it should be regulated as a hazardous or non-hazardous waste.


The agency appears to be leaning in the wrong direction - toward a recommendation that coal ash be regulated as a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  This would have far reaching impacts on U.S. jobs and a strong effect on the nation's overall energy policy as EPA's decision could affect electricity costs from coal-fired plants and the ability of certain power plants to remain in service.  This decision also involves the continued viability of CCB beneficial use practices which play a significant role in the reduction of greenhouse gases.  Therefore, it is important that the final rule reflect a balanced approach that ensures the cost effective management of CCB that is protective of human health and the environment, while also encouraging CCB beneficial use.


After a thorough examination of the characteristics of CCB in 2000, the Clinton administration determined that coal ash should not be managed as a hazardous waste.  A decade later, we join dozens of state policymakers, including the National Governors Association, Western Governors Association and numerous state environmental protection agencies in lending our support for adhering to that non-hazardous determination.


In 2008, electric utility boilers in the United States generated more than 137 million tons of CCB and approximately 45 percent were recycled through a wide range of industrial, manufacturing and agricultural applications, meaning it did not have to go to the landfill.  The material is used to make concrete, strengthen road beds, construct roofing material, stabilize mine drainage, and manufacture wall board, as a soil nutrient additive for agriculture and in mine reclamation.


EPA may also be considering a "hybrid approach" regulating CCB as hazardous only if placed in landfills or impoundments.  This too would be the wrong decision for the agency to make.  The annual value to the U.S. economy of coal ash recycling is estimated to be as high as $8 billion.  If coal ash is designated as hazardous in any manner, businesses may be forced to end recycling options due to concerns over legal exposure, product liability and public perception and may shut down operations.


This would eliminate both the revenue stream for those utilities that sell their CCB and the thousands of good-paying jobs associated with the sale and reuse of these materials.  This would also dramatically increase power plants' operating costs, which would be passed on to customers as utilities would be required to alter or build additional facilities to manage the increased volume of ash.  Price increases in the industrial heartland and other parts of the country where coal is the predominant source of electric generation would be devastating as many of these areas are already strained by recession and job loss.


In addition, the projected costs associated with managing CCB as a hazardous waste would essentially shut down electricity generating plants that recover and reuse waste coal.  These plants play a critical role in helping to clean up acres of waste coal piles spread across the eastern United States.


We understand the EPA concerns about the handling and storage of CCB after the ash spill disaster at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston facility.  Appropriate actions should be taken against those who have violated regulations and suitable precautions should be taken in these instances to protect the public health. 


However, in light of the fact that the agency has already determined coal ash to not exhibit hazardous waste characteristics, we urge EPA to heed the recommendations of state policymakers and environmental officials, dozens of industry groups, and the businesses that rely on coal ash and regulate coal ash as a non-hazardous material.  Changing this designation would result not only in fewer reductions in greenhouse gases through recycling efforts and slower clean up of waste coal across the country but also in higher electricity prices and fewer U.S. jobs during already difficult economic times.


Thank you for your attention to this important matter.




Aderholt (R-AL)

Akin (R-MO)

Austria (R-OH)

Bachus (R-AL)

Barrett (R-SC)

Barrow (D-GA)

Bartlett (R-MD)

Barton (R-TX)

Berry (D-AR)

Biggert (R-IL)

Bishop (D-GA)

Bishop (R-UT)

Blackburn (R-TN)

Blunt (R-MO)

Boccieri (D-OH)

Bonner (R-AL)

Boozman (R-AR)

Boucher (D-VA)

Boustany (R-LA)

Broun (R-GA)

Buyer (R-IN)

Capito (R-WV)

Carney (D-PA)

Carson (D-IN)

Carter (R-TX)

Cassidy (R-LA)

Chaffetz (R-UT)

Childers (D-MS)

Coble (R-NC)

Cole (R-OK)

Conaway (R-TX)

Cuellar (D-TX)

Davis (R-KY)

Dent (R-PA)

Donnelly (D-IN)

Doyle (D-PA)

Ellsworth (D-IN)

Emerson  (R-MO)

Flake (R-AZ)

Fleming (R-LA)

Foxx (R-NC)

Franks (R-AZ)

Gerlach (R-PA)

Gohmert (R-TX)

Gonzales (D-TX)

Goodlatte  (R-VA)

Graves (R-MO)

Green, Gene (D-TX)

Griffith (R-AL)

Guthrie (R-KY)

Hall (R-TX)

Halvorsen (D-IL)

Harper (R-MS)

Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD)

Hill (D-IN)

Holden (D-PA)

Inglis (R-SC)

Jenkins (R-KS)

Jones (R-NC)

Jordan (R-OH)

Kagen (D-WI)

Kind  (D-WI)

King (R-IA)

Kingston (R-GA)

Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)

Lamborn (R-CO)

Latham (R-IA)

LaTourette (R-OH)

Latta (R-OH)

Linder (R-GA)

Leutkemeyer (R-MO)

Lummis (R-WY)

Matheson (D-UT)

Mike McCaul (R-TX)

McHenry (R-NC)

McIntyre (D-NC)

McMorris-Rogers (R-WA)

Melancon (D-LA)

Miller (R-FL)

Mollohan (D-WI)

Moran (R-KS)

Murphy (R-PA)

Myrick (R-NC)

Nunes (R-CA)

Olson (R-TX)

Petri (R-WI)

Pitts (R-PA)

Platts (R-PA)

Pomeroy (D-ND)

Price (R-GA)

Rahall (D-WV)

Rehberg (R-MT)

Rodriguez (D-TX)

Rogers (R-AL)

Rogers (R-KY)

Ross (D-AR)

Ryan (R-WI)

Ryan (D-OH)

Salazar (D-CO)

Schmidt (R-OH)

Schock (R-IL)

Sensenbrenner (R-WI)

Shadegg (R-AZ)

Shimkus (R-IL)

Shuler (D-NC)

Shuster (R-PA)

Smith (R-NE)

Souder (R-IN)

Space (D-OH)

Sullivan (R-OK)

Teague (D-NM)

Thompson (R-PA)

Thornberry (R-TX)

Tiahrt (R-KS)

Tiberi (R-OH)

Turner (R-OH)

Visclosky (D-IN)

Westmoreland (R-GA)

Whitfield R-KY)

Wilson (D-OH)

Young (R-AK)

Posted by: on: Apr 01, 2010 @ 08:31