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House Holds Hearing on EPA’s New Coal Ash Rule

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On January 21, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on "EPA’s 2014 Final Rule: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities." The hearing focused on EPA’s new rule which was finalized in December. Members of both parties were generally supportive of the rule. The Republicans were extremely happy that the EPA did not classify coal ash as hazardous waste — which would have mandated far more stringent standards – but remained concerned that the rule leaves the door open to a hazardous classification in the future. Several members, including Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) said new legislation, such as Congressman McKinley’s bill from last Congress, would create a better and more certain regulatory environment for everyone. Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) said discussing changes now would be "premature" and that the rule should be given some time to go into effect before enacting legislative changes. Several witnesses representing states voiced concerns over the implementation timeline for the regulation.

When asked about the safety of coal ash in concrete used in buildings, EPA Assistant Administrator for Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Mathy Stanislaus vigorously defended EPA’s work on methodology for encapsulated coal combustion residuals and worked hard to assuage the public health concerns from Democratic members. Additionally, many members and the assistant administrator brought up the fact that beneficial reuse is exempt from the rules and that they hope to encourage more reuse.

You may watch the hearing here. For more information, contact Elizabeth Fox at or 240-485-1156.

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