8:22am

Fri October 14, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

House to Vote on Coal Ash Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill tomorrow that will block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash. The bill has support among House Republicans, but environmental groups are lobbying against it.The bill is sponsored by West Virginia Representative David McKinley. It would let individual states regulate the disposal of coal ash, which is a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. Under the bill, the states would have to regulate the ash at least as stringently as they regulate municipal waste.

The EPA has unveiled two proposals for regulating coal ash. Scott Slesinger is the Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He says if the bill becomes law, it will block both of those proposals.

“What it does originally is stop the EPA regulatory process in its tracks and replaces a scientifically-driven rule with the congressional environmental standard that is acceptable to the utilities,” he said.

But Slesinger says that’s not so different from what’s going on now.

“So it essentially is very close to the current situation where it’s a straight state-run program and there’s great pressure from the utilities in many states not to regulate them,” he said. “So we’re very concerned.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky. A spokesman for Congressman John Yarmuth says if the bill comes to the floor in its current state, Yarmuth will oppose it.