Lawmakers move to strengthen EPA position on fly ash designation

Sources: Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Ill.; CP staff

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed “Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015,” (H.R. 1734) in a bipartisan 258-166 vote. Sponsored by Rep. David McKinley, (R-WV), it codifies the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to regulate fly ash and other coal combustion residuals (CCR) under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) ‘solid’ versus ‘hazardous’ waste provisions.

The Senate-bound legislation would remove uncertainty about a potential change of agency position on CCR, and hamper future proposals or rulemaking attempts to apply RCRA provisions forcing utility operators to treat the materials as hazardous waste. Announced in late 2014 upon a federal court ordered deadline, the RCRA ‘solid’ waste designation followed nearly five years of EPA review of a proposal establishing different handling and legal requirements for a) recyclable CCR, including ASTM C 618-grade fly ash; and, b) and landfill-bound material, primarily bottom and storage pond ash.

“Every year we recycle more than 17 million tons of coal ash into concrete,” says Portland Cement Association CEO James Toscas. “We look at this as a great success story: less waste into landfills, less cost, and better concrete. This is a classic case of U.S. industries working together to benefit both the environment and the economy. EPA did the right thing in preserving the rules that allow this recycling, and the House did the right thing in ensuring that they continue to be preserved.”

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