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Coal ash disposal legislation filed in U.S. House

News | June 4, 2013 | By:

Contains key revisions to increase regulatory clarity.

Below (with additional information linked) is information regarding progress in coal ash regulation in the U.S. House of Representatives. I will keep you all informed as we progress.
Boyd Ramsey
Chairman, GMA Executive Council

U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-W.V.) and 35 original cosponsors on Monday [June 3] filed the “Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013” in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is based on bipartisan legislation that nearly passed Congress last year, but includes several key revisions to clarify the scope and intent of national coal ash disposal regulations that would be created by the bill.

The bill—now known as HR 2218—will be considered in committee Wednesday [June 5] and Thursday [June 6] of this week. Bill sponsors are hopeful that the bill will pass the full House of Representatives—where previous versions have passed four times—before the end of July.

The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy resumed work on the coal ash legislation in a hearing on April 11. At that hearing, a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that the agency would not oppose the legislation based on the language of last year’s Senate Bill (S 3512) and was willing to work with committee members to seek several clarifications. The bill filed Monday includes the following changes to earlier versions:

  • Adds a deadline for states to issue permits and requires that owners/operators comply with certain requirements (beyond just groundwater monitoring) in the interim period until permits are issued.
  • Makes explicit the criteria by which EPA can assess whether a State permit program is deficient.
  • Requires a periodic evaluation for appearances of structural weakness and requires consultation between the implementing agency and the state dam safety officials.
  • Addresses issues at closed facilities by clarifying that nothing in the bill impacts authority to investigate and remediate the sites under CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund).
  • Clarifies that a closure plan must provide for closure as soon as practicable.
  • Requires an emergency action plan to be prepared for high hazard structures and requires that, if a potentially hazardous condition is identified, immediate action be taken to mitigate the condition.

The bill is patterned after regulations for municipal solid waste disposal and would establish the first ever national regulatory standards for coal ash disposal. It would create enforceable national regulations under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and avoid any designation of coal ash as “hazardous waste.”

A House Energy and Commerce Committee has prepared a news release about the bill. See full text of HR 2218.

Source: Boyd Ramsey, Chairman, GMA Executive Council

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