The Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act was introduced last month and would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing its proposed coal ash rule and from ever issuing coal ash regulations. The bill would reinforce an EPA decision from 2000 that waste from burning fossil fuels doesn't need to be regulated under the Solid Waste Disposal Act. The issue got fresh attention in December 2008, when a Tennessee Valley Authority coal-ash pond broke and released 1 billion tons of waste into the Emory and Clinch rivers in east Tennessee, Environmental News Service notes. TVA is a federal agency, but the pond had been regulated by the state.
EPA proposed coal-ash regulation in 2010, then backed off. The groups' letter says that the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act would nullify "450,000 public comments, essentially silencing the voices of nearly half a million Americans who supported protective regulations." The groups say they have no confidence in state-by-state management of coal ash. (Read more)