House panel to hold Jan. 22 hearing on EPA’s coal ash decision

The House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 22 entitled “EPA’s 2014 Final Rule: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities.”

The hearing by this House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will examine EPA’s recently issued rule regulating the disposal of coal ash and discuss the need for legislation in the wake of this action. Following EPA’s announcement this past December, committee GOP leaders welcomed EPA’s decision not to regulate coal ash under the most “cumbersome” definition but expressed concern that the rule did not provide the certainty that job-creators need. The members will hear from EPA and a panel of stakeholders.

“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-Mich. “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 Shimkus. “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.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Dec. 19 that the new rules are designed to both prevent catastrophic coal ash impoundment failures like the one in Tennessee at TVA‘s Kingston power plant and set up safeguards to prevent groundwater contamination and air emissions from coal ash.

“EPA is taking action to protect our communities from the risk of mismanaged coal ash disposal units, and putting in place safeguards to help prevent the next catastrophic coal ash impoundment failure, which can cost millions for local businesses, communities and states,” McCarthy said at the time.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.