Legislation protecting fly ash market, thwarting EPA reaches Senate

Sources: Citizens for Recycling First, Denver; Office of Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND); CP staff

Five Democrat and five Republican Senators have filed The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (S.1751), creating state-enforced, national disposal standards for coal ash while protecting the material from a “hazardous waste” designation.

The latter point addresses the more stringent of two options the Environmental Protection Agency proposes in “Identification and Listing of Special Wastes: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) from Electric Utilities.” The subject of a protracted rule-making process, that proposal covers handling and disposal of all grades of CCR, including readily recyclable concrete-grade fly ash.


S.1751 is modeled after a bill of the same name that passed the House of Representatives in mid-October by 267–144 vote, 37 Democrats among the yeas. Like H.R. 2273, the Senate version sets up a state permitting program for landfill- or impoundment-bound coal ash under a section of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

In introducing the bill, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) noted, “North Dakota is a good example of how states can manage the disposal of coal residuals with good environmental stewardship, and at the same time, allow for beneficial uses like building roads, bridges and buildings that are stronger and less expensive. Just as importantly, this legislation helps to preserve valuable jobs at a time when the nation so very much needs them.”

Democrat counterpart and bill cosponsor Senator Kent Conrad added, “Years of research have shown that coal ash should not be regulated as a hazardous waste. Doing so would only force unworkable requirements on our state’s utilities, resulting in serious economic consequences and the loss of good-paying jobs. While coal ash must be handled properly, there are less burdensome regulatory options that still protect public health and the environment and can be administered by state programs.”

In tandem with their North Dakota colleagues, Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin—Democrats representing coal-rich West Virginia—are among the 10 S.1751 cosponsors. The Senate bill and H.R. 2273 have emerged from a simpler bill Rep. David McKiney (R-WV) filed last spring to prohibit EPA regulation of coal ash as hazardous waste.