Coal Ash Regulation

ALEC’s Coal Ash Regulation Policy Guide

Regulatory Update and Specific Actions

June 21, 2012:

The House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 260-138, a motion to instruct the conferees on the transportation bill to press ahead with Rep. David McKinley’s coal ash amendment. While the bill has yet to be voted on, the purpose of the motion is just to include McKinley’s coal ash amendment.  The language, included in the House’s transportation bill (H.R. 4348) would bar the EPA from regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste under federal law.  The EPA first began proposing standards on the disposal and storage of coal ash two years ago.


February 22, 2012:

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and Energy and the Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus released a letter they intend to send to the EPA regarding the potential regulation of coal ash. The letter responds to a Notice of Intent to Sue filed by environmental groups who asking the EPA for a time line to finalize a proposal to regulate coal ash under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  In past statements, EPA has indicated that it intends to finalize the regulations sometime in 2012, but the EPA has not yet provided a specific date.  In the letter, the Chairmen urge EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to “consider the significant stakeholder interest” and avoid consenting to a timeline for action through court order.

Action: Write a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about the impacts of the potential regulation of coal ash.


January 2012:

A coalition of environmental and public health groups, including Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, are preparing to take the EPA to court over delays on finalizing regulations on coal ash. The groups are suing under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which requires the EPA to regulate harmful wastes.


October 2011:

In a bipartisan 267-144 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (HR 2273). The bill requires that coal ash disposal be regulated under existing frameworks developed by the EPA under the Solid Waste Disposal Act, rather than under a new rule classifying it as a hazardous waste. While federal standards would be used, states would be responsible for developing their own regulatory permit programs and enforcing them.


October 2011:

Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced the Senate version of The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (S 1751) to allow the individual states to regulate coal ash disposal if they follow federal standards for solid waste. States could also have the option to allow the EPA to regulate disposal if they decline to do it themselves. The Senate bill is a bipartisan measure with co-sponsors including Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). It is currently being considered by the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Despite some Democratic support, the bill will likely face opposition, as have similar recent anti-regulatory measures in the chamber.


Coal Ash Regulation Talking Points. American Legislative Exchange Council. December, 2011.

EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck: Strategies for State Legislators. American Legislative Exchange Council. February 2011.

EPA’s Pretense of Science: Regulating Phantom Risks. Texas Public Policy Foundation. May, 2012.

Coal Ash Regulation Policy Guide by ALEC_States