EPA Supports Coal Ash Recycling While Issuing Regulatory Options

            U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials voiced strong support for recycling coal ash today as they formally announced that they are considering two approaches to regulating coal ash disposal.

            “EPA supports the legitimate beneficial use of coal combustion residuals,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, the agency office that will be responsible for implementing the proposals. “Environmentally sound beneficial uses of ash conserve resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lessen the need for waste disposal units, and provide significant domestic economic benefits. This proposal will clearly differentiate these uses from coal ash disposal and assure that safe beneficial uses are not restricted and in fact are encouraged.”

            The proposal that EPA announced features two potential approaches to regulating coal ash disposal.  EPA will seek public comment on the approaches for 90 days from their publication in the Federal Register, which is expected in the next week or two.  After that, EPA will need to formulate a Draft Final Rule for another round of public comment before anything is enacted.

            The two regulatory approaches utilize different sections of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), specifically:

·         Subtitle C – which is enforced by the federal government, and;

·        Subtitle D – in which the federal government sets standards that are enforced by the states.

Numerous and diverse stakeholder groups have already objected to the Subtitle C approach because it creates a harmful “hazardous waste” stigma for the coal ash resource. (See here for dozens of letters showing opposition to the Subtitle C approach:

The proposal issued today by EPA is 563 pages long.  A copy of the proposed rule and a table comparing the Subtitle C and D approaches can be found here:

Citizens for Recycling First will analyze the EPA proposal and publish its analysis at over the coming days and weeks. Check back on the web site frequently for more information about the proposals and how individuals and organizations can participate effectively during the public comment period.

Posted by: on: May 04, 2010 @ 06:41