Luetkemeyer Backs Bill to Continue Recycling and Responsible Use of Coal Ash Materials
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) voted for legislation that would protect jobs and prevent high energy costs by ensuring the continued beneficial use and management of recycled coal ash materials widely used in the construction industry to make buildings and roads sturdier. The legislation rejects attempts by the Obama administration to classify the ash as hazardous waste, a move that has been considered and subsequently denied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) no fewer than 4 times over the last 20 years.
"Slapping a hazardous label on coal residuals would impose serious hardships on small businesses employing tens of thousands of people throughout the United States," Luetkemeyer said. "This issue has been debated on the national level several times, and each time the EPA has decided that coal combustion byproducts are not a hazardous material and should be monitored and managed by state governments."
The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011 provides for consistent state regulatory authority over coal ash under Subtitle D of the Solid Waste Disposal Act and would include criteria for the management of coal combustion residuals in surface impoundments and other land-based units. Should a state choose not to establish a permit program for coal ash, the EPA Administrator maintains the authority to examine any alleged deficiencies and then assume control of a permit program in that state.
Approximately 45 percent of coal and fly ash product is currently recycled into byproducts that provide environmentally safe and durable alternatives to traditional materials. From 1999 to 2009, American industries successfully recycled 519 million tons of coal ash, leading to a decrease in harmful emissions by more than 138 million tons.
A hazardous waste designation by the EPA would eventually impact every industry and government sector that uses coal as a fuel source, including but not limited to the electric utility, agriculture and mining industries; universities; manufacturers; and pulp and paper producers. It would supersede existing state regulatory authority, impose stringent federal regulations and threaten the beneficial use of coal combustion residuals going forward.
"Businesses will not use something that has been classified as a hazardous material in their products. My concern is that, in reality, such a designation would worsen the situation by hindering recycling efforts and increasing the amount of coal combustion byproducts that would have to be stored in the ground," Luetkemeyer said.