Utility group asks EPA to reconsider coal combustibles rule

Dive Brief:

  • A utility group whose membership includes more than 110 companies and several large trade associations has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider portions of coal ash regulations passed by the Obama administration in 2014.
  • In a May 12 filing, the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) said approaching compliance deadlines are forcing companies to make "irreversible and tremendously significant long-term business and operational decisions," including pulling coal plants offline.
  • The 2014 rule created requirements and standards for CCR management, but stopped short of classifying coal ash as hazardous waste.

Dive Insight:

USWAG makes clear that it is not opposing the entire coal ash rule, but said some portions will need to be rethought given recent executive orders from the White House.

"An extension of the upcoming CCR rule compliance deadlines is also necessary, and the EPA should take immediate action to extend those deadlines," the group said. 

USWAG said many coal units are "are now facing decisions on whether to make large capital expenditures to comply with central requirements of the CCR Rule," and absent an extension those decisions might need to be revisited.

The group's members include utility companies and industry associations including Edison Electric Institute, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the American Public Power Association, and the American Gas Association.

According to Earthjustice, there are more than 1,400 coal ash sites in the United States, and "in at least 200 cases, the toxic waste is known to have contaminated water source."

Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans said in a statement that te new EPA rules "were finally starting to make progress in protecting people from what is now the nation’s second-biggest industrial waste problem.  Cutting back protections at this point would be reckless and would put people’s health at risk."

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Filed Under: Generation Regulation & Policy