March 02, 2016

Manchin Delivers Opening Remarks on Coal Ash Recycling Legislation at the Environment and Public Works Committee

Manchin and Hoeven introduced the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act in January

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) delivered opening remarks at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today on the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act. Senators Manchin and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced this legislation in January to continue their efforts to find a common sense approach to ensuring safe disposal of coal ash while also preserving the economic opportunities and benefits associated with re-use of coal ash.  This measure will help keep good paying jobs in West Virginia by giving industries that re-use coal ash greater regulatory certainty.

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. 

The Manchin-Hoeven legislation:

  • 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.
  • Among many coal ash disposal standards, it ensures state permit programs require timely and effective groundwater monitoring of coal ash disposal sites, and also requires protective lining and properly engineered disposal structures needed to protect communities and the environment.
  • 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. 
  • The Manchin-Hoeven legislation provides state regulators the flexibility they need for implementing the groundwater monitoring and corrective action standards, similar to what is provided under existing Municipal Solid Waste regulations.