Coal Ash Bill Wins Subcommittee OK

(Electric Co-Op Today 06-10-2013) The on-again, off-again congressional action on coal ash legislation is on again. A House subcommittee voted June 6 to advance a bill that sets up a state-run program to regulate coal ash, a common byproduct of coal-based power plants. The legislation also bars the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste and subjecting it for the first time to federal standards for handling and disposing of hazardous wastes.
Electric cooperatives strongly back the measure, known as the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013. Co-ops have opposed a hazardous waste designation since EPA first circulated it as a regulatory option in June 2010.
“This bill promotes the proper oversight of coal combustion residuals, while still enabling electric co-ops to continue to provide affordable and reliable power. We will continue to work to see this become law,” said Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president, government relations.
The voice vote in the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy moves the bill to the full Energy and Commerce Committee.
The measure, authored by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., is based in part on a coal ash bill that the House passed in October 2011. A companion Senate bill died of inaction.
The new version adds groundwater monitoring and protection requirements to baseline federal standards for states to implement. It also incorporates new structural stability requirements for coal ash impoundments.
EPA has yet to finalize coal ash regulations that it planned in response to a massive December 2008 spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant near Kingston, Tenn.
Electric co-ops have generated thousands of messages to EPA opposing a hazardous waste designation and noting that recycled coal ash is commonly used in building materials.
“Since EPA first proposed coal ash rules exactly three years ago, there has been a cloud of uncertainty hanging over states, the regulated community, coal ash recyclers, and even EPA. This bill would resolve the issues for everyone,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill, the subcommittee chairman.
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