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The U.S. House of Representatives Sept. 19 passed the Stop the War on Coal Act (H.R. 3409), a package of bills that benefits the construction industry by preventing drastic increases in energy costs, avoiding the disruption of crucial supply chains and preserving existing jobs.

In a letter sent to all members of the House Sept. 18, ABC expressed support for H.R. 3409, a portion of which is based on the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2273) passed by the House in October 2011, and establishes a baseline for disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs).

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act is a response to a proposed regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that could lead to the labeling of CCRs as hazardous waste, which would virtually eliminate the construction industry’s ability to use CCRs in many building materials.

H.R. 3409 would give states the power to monitor coal ash disposal from power plants and allow states with existing programs governing CCR disposal to continue to operate the programs while also maintaining beneficial reuse programs. The bill also includes a fail-safe provision that allows the EPA to assist states that are unable or unwilling to meet baseline standards.

In the letter, ABC pointed out that the construction industry is the primary end user of CCRs and that approximately 40 percent of all CCR output is converted into high-quality building materials. ABC also pointed out that labeling CCRs as hazardous waste would translate into fewer projects, substantial decreases in revenue and, most importantly, massive job loss. Studies estimate that between 12,000 and 19,000 additional jobs would be lost in the nonresidential construction industry alone.

“If CCRs are no longer available, manufacturers and builders would be forced to turn to more expensive and, incidentally, lower quality components,” said ABC. “This would significantly raise project costs, which largely would be passed on to end users.”

In addition, H.R. 3409 includes a section based on the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011 (H.R. 2401) that mandates a full cost assessment of several significant rules recently issued by EPA, including the CCR rule. This section will protect ABC member supply chains and preserve thousands of jobs that will be placed at risk as a result of EPA’s actions.