Today in Arlington, the Environmental Protection Agency is holding its first public hearing on its proposal to regulate coal ash, the byproduct of coal-fired
Today in Arlington, the Environmental Protection Agency is holding its first public hearing on its proposal to regulate coal ash, the byproduct of coal-fired power generation. Coal ash first became a part of the public discourse following a massive spill of the substance from a containment pond in Tennessee in 2008. A break in the pond spilled more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash, which included a number of potentially toxic metals.
EPA has offered two proposals to regulate the byproduct. The first proposal would regulate coal ash as a “special waste” and the second would regulate it as a nonhazardous material. Environmentalists prefer regulating the byproduct as a special waste because such a categorization would require more stringent oversight.
In testimony at the meeting, Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, criticized the White House Office of Management and Budget for its cost-benefit analysis of the two proposals. Steinzor called the analysis ”fanciful but deadly” because it “predicts negative net benefits of as much as $239 billion if EPA regulates coal ash appropriately, as a special waste under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Or, to put it more bluntly, electric utility executives who generate 136 million tons of coal ash annually will squander $239 billion of the nation’s resources over the next 50 years because, suffering from the stigma effect, they will send millions of tons of the stuff to lined landfills rather than dumping it in road beds and mine shafts.”
Steinzor also cited these statistics about coal ash:
Though Steinzor says regulating coal ash as a “special waste” is preferable, the Knoxville News Sentinel notes that some environmentalists are pushing for the waste to be regulated as a “toxic pollutant.”
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