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Coal Ash Regulation Policy Guide

Coal Ash Regulation Policy Guide

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Published by ALEC
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) is considering classifying coal combustion residues, more commonly known as coal ash, as a hazardous waste. CCRs are byproducts of the combustion of coal at power plants and
are disposed of in liquid form at large surface impoundments, in solid form at landfills, or in many cases beneficially recycled .This classification would place strict and expensive regulations on coal ash, burdening both coal power plant owners and the $2-billion-a year coal ash recycling trade that uses the byproduct for a variety of purposes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) is considering classifying coal combustion residues, more commonly known as coal ash, as a hazardous waste. CCRs are byproducts of the combustion of coal at power plants and
are disposed of in liquid form at large surface impoundments, in solid form at landfills, or in many cases beneficially recycled .This classification would place strict and expensive regulations on coal ash, burdening both coal power plant owners and the $2-billion-a year coal ash recycling trade that uses the byproduct for a variety of purposes.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: ALEC on Feb 21, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/21/2013

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REGULATION OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUES (CCRS)WHAT IS IT?
The U.S. Environmental Protecon Agency(EPA) is considering classifying coal combusonresidues, more commonly known as coal ash,as a hazardous waste. CCRs are byproducts of the combuson of coal at power plants andare disposed of in liquid form at large surfaceimpoundments, in solid form at landlls,or in many cases benecially recycled .Thisclassicaon would place strict and expensiveregulaons on coal ash, burdening both coalpower plant owners and the $2-billion-a-year coal ash recycling trade that uses thebyproduct for a variety of purposes.
BACKGROUND
In 2008, a dam at a coal ash storageimpoundment operated by the TennesseeValley Authority failed, resulng in a signicantspill. Although the problem was the integrityof the dam and although only some coal ash isstored in impoundments (some of it is stored inlandlls and coal mines and much is beneciallyreused), EPA is using this incident to jusfy itsregulaon of coal ash. EPA is considering thishazardous waste designaon acon despitehaving issued nal regulatory determinaonsin 1993 and 2000 that concluded that CCRs donot represent hazardous waste.Under one of the two regulatory proposals thatEPA is considering, CCRs would be regulatedunder Subtle C of the Resource Conservaonand Recovery Act (RCRA), which is reservedfor hazardous waste. EPA is prohibited fromdeclaring CCRs to be hazardous unl it“conduct[s] a detailed and comprehensivestudy and submit[s] a report” to Congress onthe “adverse eects on human health andthe environment, if any, of the disposal andulizaon” of CCRs.Chairman Upton of the Energy and CommerceCommiee has righully raised quesonsabout whether the Agency has the authorityto unilaterally reverse course on this issue,arguing that “to do so … would rendermeaningless the statutorily prescribedprocedures Congress specically required EPAto follow in determining whether CCRs warrantregulaon under RCRA Subtle C.”EPA issued its proposed rule on June 21, 2010and held a series of public hearings in thelaer half of the year. More than 400,000comments were generated on the rule. EPAconcluded another public comment periodregarding a Noce of Data Availability issuedon data that is relevant to the rule, includingchemical constuent data from CCRs, currentstate regulatory programs, and the benecialuses of coal ash. The comment period endedNovember 14, 2011.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
Classifying CCRs as hazardous waste willhave signicant consequences on electricity
 
generaon and a robust recycling industry inthe United States. This translates into higherelectricity rates and less jobs in an alreadystruggling economy.Reclassicaon will risk sgmazing thenumerous benecial uses of CCRs, whichcontributes to more than $2 billion in economicacvity.In addion to threatening the CCRrecycling trade, regulang any aspect of coalash as hazardous waste could create enormouscompliance costs and force power plantrerements. A 2010 report by the CongressionalWestern Caucus states: the rule “would have theeect of treang coal ash like nuclear waste andmake it nearly impossible to operate a powerplant with coal due to the costly requirementsthat would go along with such a designaon.”Subtle C compliance costs for electric ulieswould be in the conservave range of atleast $55 billion to $77 billion. The EPA itself esmates the average regulatory cost, for thenext 50 years, to be almost $1.5 billion a year.Other esmates have found that the price tagcould run up to $20 billion annually. BryanHannegan, Vice President of the environmentalsector for the Electric Power Research Instute,sees a risk that “250 to 350 coal units could beshut down, in an extreme scenario, and driveup the cost of electricity.”
WHY IS THIS UNNECESSARY?
In its own studies over the years, the EPA foundthat it was inappropriate to designate coal ashas a hazardous waste. By doing so now, andwithout the science or cost-benet analysesto back up the change, the EPA is taking aconthat will cost billions of dollars and potenallyreduce electricity reliability for no jusablereason. If, as is stated in numerous governmentand private studies, coal ash does not havehigh levels of toxicity, then this rule will be allcost and no benet.Groups including the U.S. Department of Energy, the Federal Highway Administraon, theDepartment of Agriculture, the Electric PowerResearch Instute, a variety of state agencies,and the EPA itself have studied CCRs over thelast several decades, and all have found that thetoxicity levels in CCRs are far below criteria thatwould require a hazardous designaon.In addion, the EPA stated in a 2005 studythat “the regulatory infrastructure is generallyin place at the state level to ensure adequatemanagement of these wastes” and that statesshould connue to be the principal regulatoryauthority for regulang CCRs as they arebest suited to develop and implement CCRregulatory programs tailored to specic climateand geological condions designed to protecthuman health and the environment.
TAKE ACTION
•Introduce ALEC model legislaon thataddresses the Coal Ash Rule:•Resoluon opposing EPA’s RegulatoryTrain Wreck•State Regulatory Responsibility Act•Resoluon to Retain State Authorityover Coal Ash as Non-Hazardous Waste•Write focused, joint leers to members of Congress•Write an op-ed or pursue other pressopportunies highlighng the impact of thisregulaon.For more informaon about the EPA’s Coal AshRule, contact Todd Wynn, Director of ALEC’sEnergy, Environment and Agriculture TaskForce, at 202.742.8542 or twynn@alec.org
REGULATION OF COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUES (CCRS)

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