September 15, 2016

Manchin and Capito Secure Passage of Coal Ash Recycling Legislation

Measure will provide certainty, empower local oversight and ensure good environmental stewardship

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) secured the inclusion of the Coal Combustion Residuals Regulatory Improvement Act in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2016, which passed today by a vote of 95 to 3. This bipartisan measure will create a states-first approach to regulating coal ash that provides both certainty for the safe and efficient recycling of coal ash and an enforceable state permit program for the disposal of coal ash. This legislation builds on the Senators’ past efforts to find a bicameral, bipartisan solution for the recycling and disposal of coal ash. 

“I am proud we were able to come together and pass this commonsense legislation that will protect jobs and our economy, while giving families and businesses the certainty they need,” Senator Manchin said. “The overregulation of coal ash by the EPA would threaten vital industries and unnecessarily cost West Virginia and the nation more jobs. This bipartisan measure would give states the ability to take the lead on setting up their own permitting programs to make sure coal ash is safely recycled and reused under existing EPA health and environment regulations. This legislation now heads over to the House, where I will work to ensure its passage and its eventual signing into law.”

“States, not the EPA, know how to best regulate within their own borders,” Senator Capito said. “This commonsense, bipartisan approach will allow states to set up their own permitting programs for recycling and reusing coal ash, providing needed certainty to industry and businesses, while ensuring the health and safety of families and communities."

In March of this year, Senator Manchin delivered opening remarks on this legislation at the Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. To watch Senator Manchin’s remarks at the committee hearing, please click here.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final coal ash rule, announced in December of 2014, correctly regulates coal ash as a non-hazardous material, but this regulation does not create an effective enforcement mechanism for the disposal of coal ash as it relies on citizen-suit litigation to enforce coal ash disposal standards. Senator Manchin introduced the original legislation with Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) in January.  It would:

  • Continues to authorize states to create permit programs to enforce coal ash disposal standards, while it responds to EPA feedback on earlier legislation by requiring states to set up their permit program through a traditional EPA application process and giving EPA final approval of a state’s permit program prior to implementation.
  • States that choose not to create a permit program or that do not have an approved application from EPA will be regulated directly by EPA.