Thursday, December 18, 2014

Environmentalists prepared to be disappointed with EPA proposed coal ash disposal rules

The Environmental Protection Agency faces a Friday deadline to announce proposed coal ash disposal rules, and environmentalists are prepared to be disappointed with the decision, Sean Cockerham reports for McClatchy Newspapers. "The Obama administration appears likely to refuse to designate the material as hazardous and could let states decide whether to enforce the rules."

"The federal government always has left it up to the individual states to manage coal ash storage and disposal, and the result is an inconsistent patchwork of regulations," Cockerham writes. "Federal disclosures show that more than two dozen utilities and other energy interests have had their lobbyists working in Washington to influence coal ash decisions this year, including Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C, which in February spilled up to 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in North Carolina and has ongoing problems disposing of more than 100 million tons of the ash elsewhere in the state."

"If the EPA declares coal ash a hazardous waste, it will mean strict and costly new rules for the material, backed up with federal enforcement," Cockerham writes. "But if the agency decides it’s non-hazardous, the new requirements will be more modest, and citizens might have to sue to get them enforced. Most analysts expect the EPA to declare the coal waste non-hazardous, based on signals from the agency." (Read more)

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