Rep. David B. McKinley re-introduced his bill regarding regulation of coal ash Tuesday, and he suspects the Environmental Protection Agency will support the measure as Congress considers it this time.
House Resolution 2218, the "Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013," contains provisions crafted by the Senate during the last Congress. It would give states the authority to set their own standards for disposing of and handling fly ash, but with oversight by the EPA.
Prior fly ash legislation proposed by McKinley, R-W.Va., passed the House in 2011, but it was never addressed in the Senate during the 112th Congress.
"The EPA is not opposed to the bill at all," McKinley said. "In fact, they have been supportive of many of its provisions. Rarely can you bring together labor unions, utilities, coal operators and environmental officials at state and federal levels to work together on legislation."
The bill is before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and had 35 co-sponsors Tuesday. Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., were among those signing on to the legislation.
Fly ash is a byproduct of burning coal that is often used in making wallboard, concrete blocks, asphalt and construction materials.
The new bill maintains the key points of the original bill, according to information provided by the Energy and Commerce Committee. It still would require the EPA to defer to the states with respect to regulation of coal ash, but it would also establish minimum standards for fly ash programs at the state level. The measure does not provide any additional powers to the EPA.
It requires installation of groundwater monitoring at all structures that receive coal ash, as well as deadlines for meeting groundwater protection standards. It deletes a provision allowing states to waive requirements of the federal standards and requires all coal ash management and disposal facilities be subject to permits.
The measure would set deadlines for issuing permits and establish criteria to assess whether a state permit program is meeting the minimum requirements at the federal level.
The legislation also includes new provisions to ensure structural stability, including a consultation with state dam safety officials, a periodic evaluation to identify structural weakness and potentially hazardous conditions and the creation of an emergency action plan for high hazard structures.