In Ongoing Effort to Protect Jobs and Keep Energy Costs Low, Rep. McKinley Formally Introduces Improved Coal Ash Legislation

June 3, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) today introduced a new version of coal ash legislation in the House of Representatives. H.R 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013, builds on bipartisan, bicameral work from last Congress to set up a state-based regulatory program that will ensure the safe management and disposal of coal combustion residuals and encourage beneficial reuse by removing the stigma associated with EPA’s proposed rule. The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will mark up the legislation later this week.

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act retains the same guiding principles from McKinley’s previous legislation, H.R. 2273, which passed the House in 2011 by a bipartisan vote of 267 to 144. The legislation protects both the environment and jobs by setting enforceable federal standards while allowing states to craft a permit program that works best for the state. The legislation also contains many improvements that were contained in S.3512, including requirements for groundwater monitoring at all structures that receive coal ash after enactment and corrective action for unlined, leaking impoundments within a specified time period.

The new legislation makes additional clarifications and key improvements such as setting deadlines for issuing permits, creating an interim compliance period for many of the requirements, and identifying criteria to assess whether a state permit program is meeting the minimum requirements. The legislation also includes new provisions to ensure structural stability, including a consultation with state dam safety officials, a periodic evaluation to identify structural weakness and potentially hazardous conditions, and the creation of an emergency action plan for high hazard structures. Coal ash is widely reused in construction products such as cement, concrete, wallboard, and roofing materials. This bill will preserve this beneficial reuse and help keep electricity costs low for American businesses and families. It provides a workable alternative to EPA’s 2010 proposal to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, which put hundreds of thousands of jobs in jeopardy and threatened to drive up electricity and construction costs.

“Currently, coal-fired power plants in 48 states create coal ash every day, but there are no federal standards for safe disposal of the material. One approach would designate coal ash as a hazardous material, which would prevent its use in everyday products and ultimately cost 316,000 jobs,” said McKinley. “Our approach sets minimum standards and gives the states flexibility to implement a disposal program that protects the environment and jobs. This is a common sense solution with bipartisan support whose time has come.”

In support of the legislation, Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) added, “This legislation lays out a new approach for environmental regulation—one that sets up federal standards but leaves the states in charge of enforcement and implementation. We took this approach because we know the states are better equipped to understand local needs and to issue and enforce permits. We worked hard last Congress to build bipartisan and bicameral support for this approach, and I believe this new and improved legislation has everything we need to get a bill signed into law.”

To view a copy of H.R. 2218, click HERE.

To view a summary of the legislation, click HERE.

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