October 20, 2011

Manchin, Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Coal Ash Recycling Legislation

Measure Will Help Preserve Jobs, Protect Local Oversight, Hold Down Energy Costs

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011, legislation that will ensure the safe and effective disposal of coal combustion residuals, a byproduct of coal-fired electricity generation that is also recycled as a valuable building material. 

Under this legislation, states could set up their own permitting program for the management and disposal of coal ash that is based on existing EPA regulations to protect human health and the environment. States will know where they stand under this bill, since the benchmarks for what constitutes a successful state program will be set in statute. This is a states-first approach that provides regulatory certainty.

“The bipartisan support for this commonsense legislation is so strong, and has been building for a long time because overregulation of coal ash by the EPA would threaten vital industries, as well as needlessly cost West Virginia and the nation more jobs - neither of which we can afford,” Senator Manchin said. “This legislation gives us a commonsense fix: let each state use existing EPA health and environment regulations to set up their own permitting program that allows them to recycle and reuse coal ash. This approach will protect jobs and our economy, and give families and businesses the certainty they need to help restore confidence.”

The legislation is prompted by the EPA’s proposal to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste. Coal ash is a byproduct that has been safely used for buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure for years under state regulations. The agency’s new rule would add additional costs to recycling companies and power plants, thereby increasing the cost of electricity to consumers.

The bill will set up a state permitting program for coal ash under a section of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that would ensure sites have the adequate groundwater monitoring, protective lining, and properly engineered structures needed to protect communities.  

In addition to Senator Manchin, Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) have also sponsored this bill.