Fourth EPA Coal Ash Hearing Held; Additional Hearing Scheduled

            Citizens for Recycling First testified at the fourth coal ash public hearing sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency – continuing the drive to encourage recycling as a safe, environmentally preferable alternative to disposal.

            At the first four hearings in Washington, DC, Denver, Dallas, and Charlotte, Citizens for Recycling First offered testimony and distributed campaign buttons and brochures to hearing attendees.

            A picture of our campaign button can be seen below, along with the text from our Charlotte hearing testimony. To download a copy of the brochure, click here:

            More EPA hearings will be held during September in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Louisville.  EPA also added an eighth hearing to its schedule, planning to visit Knoxville, Tennessee, in late October.  If you would like to volunteer to help Citizens for Recycling First at one or more of the hearings, please send a message to

            Here is what we had to say in Charlotte:

“My name is John Ward and I am Chairman of Citizens for Recycling First – an organization of more than 1,500 individuals who believe that the best solution for coal ash disposal problems is to quit throwing coal ash away.

“At its first three public hearings, the EPA has heard from dozens of people who are actively involved in the recycling of coal ash to produce significant environmental benefits – including millions of tons of annual reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.  These people include producers, marketers and users of coal ash and they have unanimously testified that designating coal ash as “hazardous waste” when destined for disposal will create a stigma that ruins recycling efforts in this country and abroad.

“A handful of witnesses – none of them actually involved in recycling coal ash – have stated that stigma is not real.  They have said that other hazardous materials get recycled and that the higher costs of disposal that come with a hazardous designation will incentivize people to recycle more.  Today I would like to point out why those positions are just plain wrong.

“First of all, examples of other hazardous materials that get recycled are not comparable to coal ash.  Most examples cited by stigma deniers are of materials that get reprocessed before they are reused.  (Coal ash is not reprocessed before it is recycled and is mechanically and chemically identical to coal ash that is disposed. This opens the door wide to litigation that will ask: “If it’s hazardous over there, why is it not hazardous over here?”)

“Furthermore, most examples cited by stigma deniers are of materials that are reused by the very industries that produced them. (Coal ash is widely dispersed to literally thousands of locations in every community and is placed in products that come in direct contact with everyday citizens.)

“Finally, many examples cited by stigma deniers are materials that do not compete with alternative products. (Your gasoline-fueled car cannot operate without gasoline. Concrete and other products can be made without coal ash. EPA has already heard testimony that some manufacturers of competitive products are already using the prospect of a hazardous waste designation to sow fear among coal ash users.)

“As for the position that higher disposal costs will automatically lead to greater recycling rates, please consider history:  In 2000, the recycling rate for coal ash was 30 percent.  In 2008, it had increased to 44 percent – a nearly 50 percent increase in less than a decade.  Did the cost of disposal increase during that time? No. So what was responsible for this dramatic increase in recycling rates?

“Answer: In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its Final Regulatory Determination that concluded coal ash does not warrant regulation as a hazardous waste. That sent a clear signal to producers, marketers and users of coal ash who began to invest more in the infrastructure necessary to support recycling.  In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency accelerated this effort by creating the Coal Combustion Products Partnership, or C2P2 program, to actively promote recycling as a preferred alternative to disposal.

“Sadly, EPA has now reversed this trend by creating a new era of regulatory uncertainty and by stepping back from its visible support for recycling.  As a result, investments in the infrastructure necessary to support recycling have stalled and recycling rates have already begun to drop.

“The EPA should enact tougher coal ash disposal regulations. But it should do so without unnecessarily classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste and risking the destruction of a recycling effort that helps accomplish everyone's goal of a cleaner environment.”

Posted by: on: Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:36