The Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act, authored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), provides for the safe management and disposal of coal ash in a manner that preserves jobs and encourages recycling. The recycling and beneficial use of coal ash materials keeps utility costs low, provides for low-cost durable construction materials like concrete and roofing materials, and reduces waste. Estimates project this legislation will protect approximately 316,000 jobs.
H.R. 1734 utilizes the framework from bills in past Congresses by setting up enforceable state permit programs:
- States will be authorized to immediately implement a coal ash permit program.
- States that choose to implement a permit program must include all of the requirements for a permit program as laid out in the legislation, and states may choose to make their permit programs even more protective than the minimum federal requirements.
- EPA will have the ability to review a state permit program at any time to ensure that the permit program meets the minimum statutory requirements.
H.R. 1734 directly incorporates EPA’s final rule to set the minimum statutory requirements for state permit programs:
- H.R. 1734 recognizes that the technical requirements in the final rule are protective of human health and the environment and should be the standard for regulating coal ash.
- H.R. 1734 incorporates directly (with no changes) the following provisions from the final rule. States must either include these requirements that EPA set out in the final rule or do something more stringent:
Design requirements Run-on/ run-off controls
Post-closure Hydrologic and hydraulic capacity requirements
Fugitive Dust Control Plans Inspections
- H.R. 1734 allows states to make site-specific, risk-based permit decisions for coal ash just as they would for other permit programs under RCRA.
- H.R. 1734 requires states to ensure that information is made available on the Internet.
- H.R. 1734 treats inactive impoundments in the same manner as the final rule – if they do not close by the closure deadline, they must comply with all of the same requirements as an active disposal unit.
Other significant benefits of the draft legislation:
- There will be direct enforcement of the requirements in the final rule by a regulatory agency.
- There will not be a dual regulatory program – the legislation solves the problem regarding the lack of authority for state permit programs to operate in lieu of the federal requirements. Either the state or EPA will be implementing a permit program in every state.
- The ability to bring citizen suits under RCRA will not be affected, but these suits will no longer be the only mechanism for enforcement.
- There will be minimum requirements designed to protect human health and the environment.
- There will be financial assurance for closure, post-closure, and corrective action.