Congressional Hearing Highlights Threat to Coal Ash Recycling

            A House of Representatives subcommittee has heard testimony regarding the benefits of recycling coal ash and the dangers posed by a current Environmental Protection Agency proposal.

            On July 22, the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Trade held a hearing entitled: “Coal Combustion Byproducts:  Potential Impact of a Hazardous Waste Designation on Small Businesses in the Recycling Industry.”  A panel of seven witnesses at the hearing was unanimous in concluding that recycling of coal ash will be damaged if the EPA designates coal ash a “hazardous waste” when it is disposed.

            The hearing opened with a presentation by EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator Lisa Feldt.  Ms. Feldt described EPA’s proposed rule for coal ash disposal, which includes potential approaches using either the “hazardous” or “non-hazardous” sections of federal law.

Ms. Feldt reiterated EPA’s support for coal ash recycling by saying: “EPA continues to believe that the Bevill exclusion should remain in place for coal combustion residuals that are beneficially used in an environmentally-sound manner because of the important benefits to the economy and the environment including, for example, reduced air pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions.” She also said that under the scenario in which coal ash is labeled hazardous, “…disposal of coal combustion residuals would become more expensive, and thus, beneficially using coal combustion residuals would become more attractive relative to disposal.”

            The remaining witnesses at the hearing, however, challenged EPA’s assertion that a “hazardous when disposed” label will help recycling.

            “The ‘hazardous’ designation will scare users and incite liability, and thereby decimate beneficial use of CCPs,” said Craig H. Benson, Wisconsin distinguished professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

            “The public will always opt for materials that do not have the taint of some sort of hazardous status,” said Thomas H. Adams, executive director of the American Coal Ash Association.

            “Our industry is already feeling the adverse impact merely from the threat of a Subtitle C hazardous waste program for CCRs,” said Lisa Cooper, senior vice president and owner of PMI Ash Technologies.

            “If EPA designates fly ash as special waste, but requires hazardous waste regulations, acceptance throughout the different audiences in the concrete industry will be difficult to maintain,” said Richard D. Stehly, president of the American Concrete Institute.

            “EPA’s hazardous proposal appears calculated primarily to get federal enforcement authority over the regulatory program. EPA appears to be willing to sacrifice a substantial and beneficial industry merely to obtain greater regulatory influence,” said William H. Gehrmann, President of Headwaters Resources.

            “NRMCA believes that a Subtitle C designation is only to the detriment of the ready

mixed concrete industry, especially its small businesses,” said Robert A. Garbini, president of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

            “The use of coal ash has been beneficial to all end users and a hazardous label can very quickly end that. The costs to our economy and workforce would be catastrophic,” said Jeffrey Bross, president of Bross Construction.

            Complete copies of all of the hearing testimony are available here: or on the House subcommittee web site here:

            Video highlights of the hearing are available on YouTube here:

Posted by: on: Jul 26, 2010 @ 08:27