House Passes Bill to Avert EPA Regulation of Coal Ash

The U.S. House of Representatives July 25 passed in a bipartisan vote of 265-155 to pass the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2218), which would establish a baseline for coal combustion residuals (CCR) disposal while maximizing flexibility for individual states. 

In a letter sent to all members of the House, ABC expressed support for the bill because it would help Congress reclaim some of the regulatory authority that has been usurped in recent years by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In particular, ABC expressed concern that a proposed EPA regulation could lead to the labeling of CCRs as hazardous waste, which would virtually eliminate the construction industry’s ability to use them in many building materials. 

The construction industry is the primary end user of CCRs. More than 40 percent of all CCR output is converted into high-quality building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, brick and wallboard. If CCRs are no longer available, manufacturers and builders would be forced to turn to more expensive and, incidentally, lower quality components, raising project costs. 

“Ultimately, labeling CCRs as hazardous waste would translate into fewer projects, substantial decreases in revenue and, most importantly, massive job loss,” ABC wrote in the letter. 

In addition to establishing a baseline for CCR disposal, H.R. 2218 would allow states with existing programs governing CCR disposal to continue to operate the programs while maintaining beneficial reuse programs. The bill also incorporates a fail-safe provision that allows EPA to assist states that are unable or unwilling to meet baseline standards.