ARLINGTON, VA – Jo Ann Emerson, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO, issued the following statement today on the final rule establishing federal standards for coal combustion residuals (CCR) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These comments are based on an initial review; NRECA and its members will examine this long, multi-faceted ruling in more detail over the coming weeks.
“Electric cooperatives support the EPA’s decision to designate coal ash as a non-hazardous waste. The agency’s approach, supported by data from its own investigation of the nation’s coal ash disposal sites, appropriately balances the need to protect public health and the environment without creating an undue burden on co-ops.
“We are encouraged the agency has included a compliance option allowing states to incorporate the federal criteria in their own state waste management plans, and will consider such plans compliant with the rule.
“As local organizations owned by the members they serve, electric co-ops take seriously the responsibility to protect communities and the environment. Accordingly, co-ops have supported federal standards for coal ash management. At the end of the day, we all benefit from clear rules governing how we protectively manage this waste.
“CCR constitutes one of the largest waste streams generated in the U.S. Many generation and transmission cooperatives use their coal ash and other CCR to produce cement, concrete, wallboard, roofing materials and other products. According to the American Coal Ash Association’s most current data, 47 percent of CCR were used for beneficial purposes in 2012. This rule allows these beneficial reuse programs to continue and grow.
“Even with a non-hazardous final rule, however, we anticipate the need for legislation to secure the non-hazardous designation and establish an orderly process for state authorities to implement federal criteria through state permits.”