Coal-state lawmakers float plan to limit EPA waste rule options

Rep. David McKinleyDavid McKinleyLawmakers slam DOE’s proposal to help coal, nuclear power Lawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill There’s a way to protect consumers and keep good call center jobs in the U.S. MORE (R-W.Va.) is the lead sponsor of the bill, and the 15 co-sponsors include Rep. Nick RahallNick RahallLikely W.Va. Senate GOP rivals spar in radio appearances West Virginia is no longer Clinton country Solution needed: Rail congestion is stifling economic growth MORE (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Senate GOP: We are unified on controversial tax policy change Senate Dems want B to address opioid epidemic MORE (R-W.Va.), Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithIt's time to eliminate the secretive Pharmacy Benefit Manager pricing practices GOP lawmaker: Mexico will pay 'part of the tab' for wall CBO survives two House amendments targeting funding MORE (R-Va.) and others.

EPA is currently mulling two approaches: The first creates a federal enforcement regime under the hazardous waste title — Subtitle C — of the waste law that creates new permitting and storage requirements.

The second option is a less prescriptive plan under a non-hazardous waste section — Subtitle D — that leaves more authority in the hands of the power companies and states.

EPA has been under pressure from the coal industry and allied lawmakers to back off the tougher approach (check out our 2010 posts on this here and here).

Regulators are targeting the substance — stored in liquid form in surface ponds and in solid form at landfills — for new controls.

The EPA push stems in part from a late 2008 spill from a breached storage pond in Tennessee, which dumped 5.4 million cubic yards of the liquid material into and around a nearby river, destroying and damaging several homes.

But opponents of the tougher option EPA is mulling say it would be burdensome and isn’t necessary to ensure protections. Green groups disagree and want the more stringent approach.

The coal wastes are a public health risk because they contain mercury, cadmium and arsenic that can reach groundwater and drinking water without proper safeguards, according to EPA. Draft rules floated last May are aimed at ensuring new controls such as liners at landfills and surface ponds.