Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Approves Coal Ash Legislation to Protect Jobs and Prevent High Energy Costs

June 21, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today approved legislation to protect Americans against unnecessary job losses and high energy costs.  The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act passed the subcommittee by voice vote.

Rep. David McKinley's (R-WV) proposal, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, ensures the continued beneficial use of coal combustion residuals and strengthens state regulatory authority over these materials under the Solid Waste Disposal Act. The legislation would prevent the Obama administration's attempt to reclassify these materials as a hazardous waste - a designation previous administrations have deemed inappropriate. 

Coal ash is widely used in the construction and agriculture industries to produce materials such as concrete mixtures, drywall, and fertilizers. The administration's regulatory plan 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.

"Potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost and costs could surpass the hundred billion dollar range if the EPA is allowed to regulate coal ash as a hazardous material.  These statistics are powerful, but they aren't just numbers; they represent real jobs for American workers who too often have been overlooked by the Obama Administration," said McKinley. "We must continue to push legislation that will help keep the cost of doing business down and the cost to consumers low if we ever intend to get our country out of this recession. The EPA and President Obama need to stop treating these statistics as numbers and start treating them like unemployed American citizens."

"In working with stakeholders we have received broad support for this legislation,including state environmental officials, the beneficial use community, and other regulated stakeholders. They all believe the provisions in this bill will ensure the beneficial re-use of CCR's and rigorous state-based management of coal ash waste. This will protect jobs, encourage economic growth and job creation, and prevent unnecessary, higher energy prices and construction costs," said Chairman Shimkus. "As we move this bill to full committee consideration I hope we can work with all members to present a bipartisan bill to the full House."