H.R. 2273 not only prevents the EPA from regulating it as a hazardous material, but establishes a new regulatory framework, similar but more stringent to that of municipal solid waste landfills, and will safeguard both jobs and public health. The states will have primacy over the regulation of coal ash, but EPA retains its ability to step in when necessary.
A broad coalition of groups stands behind this bill. Nearly all Republicans and the many industries affected support it, of course, but so did one-third of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Democrats – including those with near-perfect lifetime ratings from the League of Conservation Voters; the United Mine Workers of America, which even supported cap-and-trade; Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat; and the Environmental Council of the States, comprised of the top environmental protection officers in each state.
In its Statement of Administration Policy, the White House notably did not threaten a veto of this bill - perhaps influenced by the 12 Senate Democrats who signed on to a letter earlier this year opposing the EPA’s proposal to regulate coal ash as hazardous.
After Republicans worked diligently with the other side of the aisle to make changes to the original bill that satisfied the concerns of industry and environmentalists alike, this bill has a realistic chance to become law.
House Republicans do not oppose regulation. We want clean air and water for our children and grandchildren as much as Democrats do. But it must be responsible regulation that protects jobs. This legislation does just that. Congress won’t pass President Obama’s jobs bill, but let’s pass this one.
McKinley is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.