The EPA intends to propose two potential regulatory paths the agency could follow under the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (RCRA). One option is to regulate under Subtitle C, which creates a comprehensive program of federally enforceable requirements for waste management and disposal. The other option, under Subtitle D, gives EPA authority to set performance standards for waste management facilities and would be enforced primarily through citizen suits.
The EPA stated its intention that this proposal would safeguard environmentally safe and desirable forms of recycling coal ash, known as beneficial uses. Under both approaches proposed by EPA, the agency would leave in place the “Bevill” exemption for beneficial uses of coal ash in which coal combustion residuals are recycled as components of products instead of placed in impoundments or landfills. Large quantities of coal ash are used today in concrete, cement, wallboard and other contained applications. The EPA stated that these “encapsulated” uses would not be impacted by the proposal, however, depending on the classification of the waste there may indeed be an impact resulting from the rule.
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is concerned about implications for the shipping and handling of the material as well as any increased potential liability related to beneficial use. AGC raised many of these concerns in a letter to EPA in November 2009.
The public comment period is 90 days from the date the rule is officially published in the Federal Register. AGC is currently reviewing the 536-page proposal and will submit comments. If you would like to advise AGC in the comment-writing process, please contact Melinda Tomaino at [email protected] or 703.837.5415. More background information can be reviewed in AGC’s Environmental Observer.