Will EPA Coal Ash Actions Hurt President’s Re-election?

            Proposed coal ash disposal regulations figure prominently in a recent article that assesses whether the Environmental Protection Agency is hurting President Barack Obama’s re-election prospects two years from now.

            Politico – a well-read Washington DC newspaper that covers politics – said: “Controversial rules covering everything from power plants to petroleum refiners, manufacturers, coal mines and farmers could come back to haunt the White House in industrial and Midwestern states that carried Obama to the presidency two years ago.” The full text of the article, entitled “EPA rules could hurt Obama in 2012,” can be read here:

            Citizens for Recycling First responded to the article with this commentary:

“The EPA's push to label coal ash a "hazardous waste" is a textbook example of the Obama Administration running amok despite its supposed commitment to ‘scientific integrity.’

“Here's the science on coal ash: It is not toxic. Its toxicity does not rise to the level that qualifies as hazardous waste. EPA acknowledges this by proposing landfill engineering standards that are essentially the same under both its hazardous and non-hazardous regulatory approaches. So why the push for a "hazardous waste" designation? Because that's the only way EPA feels it can get full enforcement power over the rules it establishes and this EPA doesn't think the states are up to enforcing the new federal rules (just like they do for municipal solid waste).

“What make the situation truly tragic is that labeling coal ash "hazardous waste" threatens to destroy a successful recycling industry that currently uses 44 percent of the coal ash produced every year rather than throwing it away.  Even Politico's reporter fell for this when he referred to "toxic coal ash waste" in this story. People won't want "toxic waste" in their homes, schools and businesses where it is safely and effectively recycled now.  The loss of this recycling industry will result in tens of millions more tons of ash to dispose and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 12 million tons per year as products are manufactured to replace the lost recycled ash.

“Every relevant federal agency besides EPA is opposed to a hazardous label for coal ash.  So are state environmental and transportation agencies, architects, engineers, product manufacturers who use coal ash, and recycling companies who market it.  The only people in favor of a hazardous designation are anti-coal environmental groups and a handful of companies that make products that compete with recycled coal ash.

“EPA's handling of coal ash regulations shows that the only science this Administration really cares about is the political science of pandering to the desires of extreme environmental activists. But it's not just industry that will pay the price. The real victims are consumers of electricity (in other words, everyone) who will pay higher energy costs with no meaningful additional environmental protection and the environment itself, which stands to lose the benefits of one of the largest and most successful recycling efforts in history.


John Ward
Citizens for Recycling First

Posted by: on: Oct 05, 2010 @ 12:23