WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) voted for legislation that will establish improved health and safety standards for the management and disposal of coal ash, while also protecting an estimated 316,00 jobs across the country. The Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015 (H.R.1734) reins in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by putting states in charge of implementing coal ash rules and ensures proper protections are in place for public health and the environment.
“Recycled coal ash can be beneficial to a region like Eastern Kentucky with abundant coalfields, so long as the disposal process is governed by common sense regulations and guidance,” said Congressman Rogers. “We achieved a major victory when EPA opted to regulate coal ash as a non-hazardous material in December, but much uncertainty remains. Once again, EPA has failed to account for the impact of its regulations on the number of jobs lost in the region and the local economy. This legislation will empower the states to implement a plan that considers the local environmental impact, while also working to save jobs in the region.”
Coal ash is produced when coal is burned to generate electricity. Rather than being sent to a landfill, these byproducts can be recycled for materials commonly used in construction and manufacturing, like concrete and roofing tiles. The recycling and beneficial use of coal ash materials keeps utility costs low and reduces waste.
This legislation allows States to operate a coal ash permit program that meets the minimum statutory requirements, in lieu of a federal program, to ensure that coal ash is recycled or disposed in a safe and responsible manner. States may choose to make their programs more protective than the minimum federal standards. The EPA will implement programs for states that choose not to implement their own.
The legislation was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday evening and now moves to the Senate for consideration.