The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will make final disposal rules for coal ash as a non-hazardous material by December 19, 2014.
In 2012, the EPA faced legal action unless it created a deadline for finalizing coal ash disposal regulations initially proposed in 2010 under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
A Consent Decree signed by a number of companies for the Appalachian Voices vs Gina McCarthy lawsuit was delivered to the Federal DC District Court on January 29, 2014.
“We are pleased that EPA is committing to finalize its proposed upgraded standards for coal ash disposal under Subtitle D, the non-hazardous waste section of RCRA,” said Kirk Benson, Headwaters Chairman and CEO, in a statement to media. “We will finally achieve regulatory certainty during 2014,” he added.
Besnon said he’s worked with the EPA for over five years and feels “very comfortable with the settlement agreed to with Headwaters and the other plaintiffs.”
A possibility remains that Congress could amend RCRA and require states to enforce national Federal Subtitle D nonhazardous waste standards for coal ash disposal under state-issued permits. These legislatively-required permits could improve the overall management of coal ash disposal if enacted.
“In either the legislative or the regulatory approach, the prospect of an unwarranted and damaging ‘hazardous waste’ designation for disposed coal ash is eliminated and the regulatory uncertainty removed,” said Benson. “Regulatory certainty will help us grow the beneficial use of coal ash – safely keeping the material out of disposal facilities, creating economic and environmental value.”