Utility Group: Coal ash rule likely set for EPA 2014 agenda

Sources: National Concrete Masonry Association, Herndon, Va.; CP staff

Conferring with Utility Solid Waste Activities Group officials in Washington, D.C., NCMA Government Affairs staff reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is poised to issue a final Coal Combustion Residuals management and disposal rule late next year.

Recent court filings indicate the agency aims to coordinate the rule with an effluent limitation guideline to be proposed this month, with a May 2014 finalization target. Among other indicators behind the Utility Group’s projection on a final CCR rulemaking: the White House Office of Management and Budget has not posted the CCR rule on its Agenda of Regulatory Actions, while environmental groups’ litigation tied to the rulemaking is expected to carry into 2014.

Utility and construction interests have closely tracked prospective new CCR management and disposal regulations since June 2010, when the agency published “Identification and Listing of Special Wastes: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) from Electric Utilities.” The proposed rule included an option that would classify impoundment- or landfill-bound coal ash as hazardous waste, and position EPA—versus state agencies—with CCR management and disposal oversight. Opponents, including many concrete and cement industry representatives, have pointed to the highly negative impact a hazardous waste designation—even if only intended for non-recyclable material—would have on the marketability and usage of concrete-grade fly ash.

Complicating the rulemaking process was the inordinate volume of responses, 400,000-plus, EPA received during a June-November 2010 public comment period for “Identification and Listing.”