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As Obama Reaches Out to Business, His EPA Threatens a Recycling Industry

White House representatives have gone out of their way recently to claim that the Obama administration is not anti-business, even as the President’s own Environmental Protection Agency appears resolved to turn a deaf ear to the concerns of dozens of small businesses that recycle coal ash.

“The White House has launched a coordinated campaign to push back against the perception taking hold in corporate America and on Wall Street that President Barack Obama is promoting an anti-business agenda,” said an article July 8, 2010, in the Washington newspaper Politico.  (For the complete article, click here: http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=B2F85DDF-18FE-70B2-A835FE1E7FA8D74C)

            Politico’s article quotes White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel responding to business criticisms by saying, “Rather than respond to atmospherics, they should look at policies where we have been supportive.”

            Perhaps a look at EPA’s evolving policies toward coal ash recycling – an industry comprised mostly of small to middle sized businesses – is in order:

·         Throughout 2009, dozens of coal ash recyclers, their customers, professional societies, and others write and visit EPA urging the Agency NOT to propose rules that would designate coal ash hazardous when it is disposed.  (See here for examples: http://www.recyclingfirst.org/more-info.php) They argue that this action would create a stigma for coal ash that would make recycling activities more difficult or even impossible.

·         In May 2010, the EPA announces it will proposes its “hazardous when disposed” approach anyway, with EPA officials saying they are “not persuaded” that calling a material hazardous  waste can interfere with people’s desire to use it.  Furthermore, the EPA Administrator is quoted saying she has heard from industry already; “I'd like to hear from private citizens.”

·         In June 2010, EPA suspends its participation in the Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2) program, but fails to notify the individuals, companies and trade associations that worked with EPA in the program to promote safe and environmentally beneficial coal ash recycling.

·         In July 2010, EPA goes one better and completely removes the C2P2 program web site from the Internet without a word of notification or explanation to its partners. (See here: http://www.recyclingfirst.org/blog/?post=58) The Agency posts a one-line statement that the program is being “re-evaluated,” but doesn’t tell any of its “partners” who is doing the evaluation or how.

        There’s no doubt that coal ash recycling is small potatoes compared to Wall Street banks, Detroit automakers, and international oil producers. But when it comes to a federal agency ignoring the well-documented concerns of small businesses doing things that actually help the environment, this Administration’s actions speak louder than words.


Posted by: on: Jul 13, 2010 @ 06:29