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EPA Offers Explanation of C2P2 Program Suspension

            Three months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unilaterally suspended the Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2), the Agency finally attempted to explain its actions to program partners.

            In an August 19 email, the Acting Director of EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery wrote to program partners that “The Agency continues to support the safe and protective beneficial use of CCRs” and offered an apology to program partners for suspending the program “…without formal notification to you and the other partners and sponsors.” (Actually, there was no notification – formal or otherwise – that EPA would be suspending the program and deleting its pages from EPA’s web site.  But on to EPA’s explanation for why it happened…)

            According to the email, EPA officials felt it was necessary to suspend the entire program because “During a regulatory process, it is particularly important that the Agency engage with all stakeholders evenhandedly…”

EPA is currently accepting public comments on proposed approaches to regulating coal ash disposal – a topic that was not the subject of the C2P2 program which focused on recycling. However, EPA said “An additional consideration in suspending EPA’s participation in the program was that the Agency wants to avoid any confusion to the public between the C2P2 program’s and the proposed rule’s characterization of unencapsulated uses.”

            With regard to the disappearance of the C2P2 web site, the EPA assured its recycling “partners” that “Documents from the C2P2 website that are germane to the proposed rulemaking have been transferred to the docket for the rulemaking.”  That docket now contains tens of thousands of documents, making the information difficult if not impossible for ordinary citizens to find.

            EPA’s explanation paints a picture of a federal agency that favors heavy handed actions with costly unintended consequences.  Rather than explain to the public the difference between disposal and recycling, the agency suspended the entire recycling partnership. Rather than removing or clarifying potentially “confusing” information about “unencapsulated uses” on its web site, the agency deleted the entire web site.

            It is reassuring that “The Agency continues to support the safe and protective beneficial use of CCRs.”  But it remains a mystery how the agency plans to actually demonstrate that support.

            Here is the complete text of EPA’s explanation:

 

Dear C2P2 Partner:

      EPA appreciates the participation of your organization and all of the other partners and sponsors in the Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2) program to further the beneficial use of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) and the benefits that result from their use.

Since its formation, the C2P2 program has seen a 10% increase in the beneficial use of these materials.  As I am sure you are aware, EPA recently suspended its active participation in the C2P2 program and took down the C2P2 website.  I offer my apology for doing so without formal notification to you and the other partners and sponsors.

      The Agency continues to support the safe and protective beneficial use of CCRs.  This position was also expressed in the June 21, 2010 EPA proposal to regulate the disposal of CCRs.  The proposed rule maintains the Bevill exemption for beneficial uses, and therefore would not alter the regulatory status of CCRs that is beneficially used.  While EPA does not want to negatively impact the legitimate beneficial use of CCRs, we are also aware of the need to fully consider the risks, management practices, and other pertinent information related to CCRs.  EPA’s proposed rule is not seeking to regulate beneficial use.  However, EPA is seeking comment on whether any additional requirements are necessary to ensure safe practices and data on the beneficial use of CCRs. To this end, we encourage you to submit comments on EPA’s proposal, including the beneficial use of CCRs. (Documents from the C2P2 website that are germane to the proposed rulemaking have been transferred to the docket for the rulemaking [http://www.regulations.gov/ (Docket ID No.

EPA–HQ–RCRA–2009–0640)].)

      During a regulatory process, it is particularly important that the Agency engage with all stakeholders evenhandedly, providing adequate transparency and consistency with the rulemaking. Consequently, EPA suspended active participation in the C2P2 program while we are taking and assessing comment on the beneficial use of CCRs.  An additional consideration in suspending EPA’s participation in the program was that the Agency wants to avoid any confusion to the public between the C2P2 program’s and the proposed rule’s characterization of unencapsulated uses.  We greatly appreciate the Partners participation to date in helping promote the safe and protective beneficial use of CCRs.  As the rulemaking progresses, we will further evaluate the appropriate role for the Agency in the C2P2 program.

        Thank you, again, for your interest and active participation in C2P2.  If you have any questions, please contact me…

Suzanne Rudzinski, Acting Director

Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery


Posted by: on: Sep 10, 2010 @ 03:04