WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today responded the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule regulating the disposal of coal ash and committed to oversight of the rule early next Congress.
“We still have a job to do on coal ash. While I am pleased to see that EPA did not pursue the regulatory approach that would have hamstrung recycling and other beneficial uses right now, a glaring hole remains as this rule fails to provide an effective solution or the regulatory certainty that job creators need,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “We share EPA’s goal of improving environmental protections. The good news is we don’t need to settle for this shortsighted fix when what we need is a long-term solution that protects both the environment and jobs. We still need a bill, and we’ll get it done.”
“While this rule isn’t the worst that EPA could do, it’s certainly not the best either. We offered a better solution with our bipartisan legislation that created a state and federal partnership” said Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL). “EPA’s rule does not close the door on a hazardous waste designation, it will require closure of impoundments that are operating safely, it regulates closed impoundments which may not be legally permitted, and it will open the door to more lawsuits. There are still many questions surrounding this rule, and we will continue our thoughtful oversight early next year as we work to legislate a long-term solution.”
“For the past four years we have sought to find a workable solution for the regulation of coal ash that will maintain hundreds of thousands of jobs, encourage recycling, protect the environment, and provide certainty. Today’s announcement by the EPA shows that our work has made a difference, but there is still more to be done,” said Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), author of the House-passed Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act. “A legislative answer is still necessary to close many of the open-ended questions and concerns the EPA left us under this regulation. The plan we laid out in H.R. 2218 calls for federal standards for coal ash disposal and requires the states to develop disposal programs that meet those standards. This approach was developed in consultation with states, utilities, recyclers, and the EPA, and remains the best way to ensure coal ash can continue to be disposed and recycled in a safe and economical manner.”
Among the committee’s questions for EPA on the rule:
Does the final rule resolve the regulatory uncertainty for the recycling industry posed by EPA’s proposed Subtitle C rule?
Does the final rule provide for an enforceable permit program that contains minimum federal standards for the regulation of coal ash?
Does the final rule provide regulatory certainty for the utility industry by creating a single, clear standard for the regulation of coal ash?
Does the final rule provide authority to the states to adopt and enforce coal ash permit programs?
Does the final rule take a measured approach to the regulation of existing impoundments through the use of performance standards rather than requiring across-the-board closure? And does the final rule take into account the need for alternative disposal capacity for impoundments that need to be closed?
Does the final rule address legacy surface impoundments that are no longer receiving coal ash and is the approach authorized by the Solid Waste Disposal Act?
Will the final rule result in more litigation and citizen suits?
The committee recently released a report highlighting that coal ash legislation provides an urgently needed solution and model for regulation. Read the report here.