Lawmakers expedite bills protecting fly ash from EPA hazards

Five Democrat and five Republican Senators introduced 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,” which 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 as one that helps preserve jobs, 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.”

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.”

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. — Information provided by Citizens for Recycling First, Denver; Office of Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)