EPA chief assures PCA directors of “better outcomes, less litigation”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt outlined the key changes he envisions for an agency transitioning from the Obama to Trump Administration in a mid-May address to Portland Cement Association Board: 1) restoring respect for the rule of law, 2) ending regulation through litigation, and, 3) establishing cooperative federalism which will restore consistency in permitting and give companies more certainty for their business.

Scott Pruitt PHOTO: Erik Rancatore, PCA

“If we do these three things, we will have better outcomes, less litigation and ultimately a better environment,” Pruitt told the PCA directors, assembled in Washington, D.C. for its spring meeting.

“We were honored to hear the Administrator shares our view that regulations are best driven by the law as Congress intended, as well as input from all relevant stakeholders, including the agency, public and private industry,” says PCA CEO James Toscas. “We are pleased Mr. Pruitt is at the helm of EPA to restore balance to regulations that protect people and the environment while enabling economic growth.”

Administrator Pruitt addressed cement industry leaders weeks after affirming “Back to Basics,” a commitment a) returning the agency to its core mission of “protecting the environment by engaging with state, local, and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth;” b) launching the Regulatory Reform Task Force to undergo extensive reviews of misaligned regulatory actions; and, c) reviewing, rescinding or revising burdensome Obama administration rules, especially the Clean Power Plan and “Waters of the U.S.”


In the week prior to the PCA board meeting, EPA moved to develop programs that allow flexibility in individual permits to manage the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR). Agency officials envision implementation guidance fostering safe CCR disposal and continued beneficial use of higher grade fly ash, while enabling states to decide what works best for their environment.

“EPA continues to support the environmentally sound recycling of coal ash,” affirmed Administrator Pruitt. “Through the authority granted by Congress in the [Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation] WIIN Act, EPA is issuing this guidance to promote the swift submission and review of state permit programs, make state and federal management of coal ash more consistent, and place enforcement in the hands of state regulators—those who best know the needs of local communities.”

WIIN authorizes state permit programs to manage CCR. Congress authorizes states to operate permit programs, as long as the EPA determines that requirements are at least as protective as the federal standards. Legislation was necessary to better facilitate implementation of EPA’s 2014 CCR Final Rule, which did not grant the agency or states the authority to directly regulate and permit safe coal ash disposal, making citizen lawsuits the primary enforcement mechanism for disposal of coal ash under the rule. In December 2016, Congress passed the WIIN Act, which included language giving state agencies the authority to implement and enforce coal ash under the 2014 CCR Final Rule through EPA-approved state permit programs.

Poster max crop

A free download of the Equipment Safety Infographic poster is available at www.aem.org.