July 27, 2015

House Passes Coal Ash Bill Over White House Veto Threat

Last Wednesday, the U.S. House passed H.R. 1734, the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act Of 2015, which would delay or eliminate parts of a rule that would regulate coal ash disposal proposed last December by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) argued the EPA’s proposed rule “conflicts with existing state programs and will lead to a duplicative coal ash regulatory structure,” neglects to provide a sound permitting process and encourages the proliferation of citizen lawsuits. 

In a letter supporting H.R. 1734, NAM argued the bill “would promote the continued use of coal ash in transportation, agriculture, housing and building construction, while ensuring that the minimum federal requirements for the disposal of CCRs [coal combustion residuals] are implemented through enforceable, state-issued permits” and that the bill is “a commonsense solution that would require the safe regulation of coal ash in a cost-effective manner, while protecting public health, the environment and thousands of high-paying jobs.” 

Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a version of this bill in the Senate last week. Their bill would:

  • Establish a state permitting program for coal ash under a section of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act;
  • Permanently designate coal ash as non-hazardous;
  • Incorporates EPA standards for coal ash disposal in “enforceable, mandatory state permit programs”; and
  • Creates a similar regime for groundwater monitoring and corrective action standards as exists under Municipal Solid Waste regulations.

The White House said President Barack Obama would veto the House-passed bill and would likely oppose the Senate version too. The House bill passed on a bipartisan 258-166 vote. Click here to see how your member of Congress voted.