Murphy Calls on EPA to Let State Officials Do Their Jobs
New Designation Duplicates Regulatory Reality
(Pittsburgh, PA) – Congressman Tim Murphy, member of the Congressional Coal Caucus, urged the Environmental Protection Agency to back away from duplicative coal ash regulations that would burden states with unnecessary and costly federal mandates. The remarks were made in written testimony submitted Tuesday at a hearing in Pittsburgh on coal ash held by the EPA. Rep. Murphy said that designating coal ash as a “hazardous waste” was a needless and costly federal mandate that was unneeded because states are already empowered to oversee coal ash storage and reuse. If the EPA took the extraordinary step of adding new regulations limiting the safe reuse of coal ash, Congressman Murphy warned that the expense to implement these guidelines would cost Southwestern Pennsylvania jobs, raise electric bills, and even result in added coal ash waste. The following is the text of Rep. Murphy’s statement:
September 21, 2010
Dear Administrator Jackson:
I am submitting this written statement for today’s public hearing record to express my strong opposition to the regulation of coal combustion residuals (CCR) as “hazardous waste” under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in its final 2000 Regulatory Determination, and as decades of scientific analysis have found, the regulation of CCRs under Subtitle C of RCRA is not required to protect public health and the environment. Mislabeling and over-regulating CCRs as hazardous waste would unnecessarily destroy jobs and increase electricity rates – consequences we cannot afford when 15 million Americans are out of work and our economy is on life-support. Towards that end, states, which support the current regulatory framework, are already empowered to write coal ash regulations protecting the public health and environment.
Each year, approximately 136 million tons of CCRs are produced by coal-fired power plants supplying half the nation’s electricity needs. As much as 45 percent of this CCR tonnage is safely recycled into drywall, concrete, road beds, roofing material, soil nutrient additives, and other “beneficial” uses, supporting around 4,000 American jobs, lowering product costs, and substantially reducing the amount of CCRs stored in landfills or impoundments. The CCR recycling industry alone adds an estimated $8 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
Regulating CCRs as hazardous waste under Subtitle C of RCRA would bring an end to recycling them for beneficial uses because using “hazardous” materials in products would increase a manufacturer’s legal exposure and product liability to prohibitive levels and effectively make those products unmarketable. Not only would this designation eliminate thousands of jobs created by the CCR beneficial use industry and a viable revenue stream for utilities that recover and sell their CCRs, but the additional costs associated with managing CCRs as a hazardous waste would be substantial enough to shut-down certain coal-fired power plants and raise electricity rates for consumers.
The EPA’s concerns about the handling and storage of CCRs are understandable — especially in light of the coal ash spill disaster at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston facility in 2008. Violations of current regulations protecting public health and the environment must be vigorously prosecuted, and those who mishandle CCRs must be held fully accountable. But the EPA should not overreact to the tragedy in Tennessee by regulating CCRs as a hazardous substance when decades of scientific analysis by a variety of groups, including the EPA itself in both Republican and Democratic administrations, has shown that it is not. While I believe the states currently are effective in regulating CCRs, if the EPA concludes it must change the regulatory structure, it should develop non-hazardous waste controls for CCRs under subtitle D of RCRA for its disposal in surface impoundments and landfills, consistent with the EPA’s 2000 Regulatory Determination.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of my concerns.