The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2273)

October 14, 2011

On October 14, 2011 the House passed this bipartisan legislation to provide for the safe management and disposal of coal ash in a way that preserves jobs and encourages recycling. This legislation was also included in H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012.

Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced this bill to preserve beneficial reuse programs and helps keep energy costs low for American business and families. The bill provides a practical alternative to EPA’s plan to regulate coal ash by creating a state-based program that sets enforceable federal standards.

Specifically, the bill:  

  • Provides for consistent state regulatory authority over coal ash under Subtitle D of the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
  • Substitutes a state-oriented regulatory program for EPA proposals that would regulate coal ash under Subtitle C or Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
  • Uses a successful, existing regulatory program to set enforceable, minimum federal standards for coal ash, but leaves regulation and enforcement to the states, limiting EPA’s role and involvement and eliminating the need for additional federal regulation.  

The administration’s proposed regulations will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs and increase electricity and construction costs:  

  • The administration’s regulatory plan under RCRA would increase costs for coal-fired power plants and threaten the beneficial use of coal ash, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs in jeopardy and driving up electricity prices.
  • Regulation under Subtitle C would classify coal ash as a hazard material — a designation previous administrations and scientific studies have deemed inappropriate. This stigmatization would discourage recycling and the beneficial use of a material widely used in construction products such as cement and drywall.
  • Industry estimates show that regulation under Subtitle D would cost somewhere between $22.77 billion and $34.66 billion over 20 years, with estimated job losses of 39,000 to 64,700. The estimated impacts of regulation under Subtitle C are even more extreme, with costs of $78.92 billion to $110 billion over 20 years and job losses that could range from 183,900 to 316,000.

H.R. 2273 provides a regulatory solution that protects both jobs and the environment:

  • This legislation will protect the beneficial use of coal ash, which keeps electricity costs low, provides for low-cost durable constriction materials, and reduces the amount of waste going into surface impoundments and landfills.
  • In the decade from 1999 to 2009, American industries successfully recycled 519 million tons of coal ash – some 38 percent of the 1.35 billion tons of coal ash produced. Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by more than 138 million tons during that period through the use of coal ash in concrete products.