HARRISBURG – In an Oct. 13 letter to Pennsylvania’s U.S. Congressional delegation, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer urged them to vote in favor of House Resolution 2273, the Coal Residuals and Management Act, which would establish a framework to allow the states to continue operating their existing coal ash residue programs. Pennsylvania already has a rigorous program.
“The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to be rushing in the direction of requiring as a blanket matter that all coal ash residue be deemed ‘hazardous waste’ and placed under complete federal regulatory control,” Krancer wrote. “This is a misguided approach and the reason we need HR 2273 to become law.”
Under the legislation, each state’s program would be required to comply with environmentally protective standards. Any coal ash residue that is not beneficially reused would be disposed of properly and in a way that is protective of the environment.
“There is no scientific or technical basis for classifying coal ash residue as ‘hazardous waste,'” Krancer said. “The issue of whether coal ash waste should be regulated as hazardous waste had been evaluated and researched at least four times before by EPA, and EPA had concluded each time that it should not be.
“In addition, groups as diverse as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Governors Association, the Environmental Council of the States, labor unions, the American Society for Testing and Materials, 30 states and a bipartisan group of 74 members of Congress have previously opposed regulated coal ash as hazardous waste and have pointed out to EPA that the evidence and the science shows that it would be inappropriate to classify coal ash waste as hazardous waste.
“Jumping the gun to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste would actually be environmentally detrimental,” Krancer said. “We have particular concern on that front here in Pennsylvania, since it would block the use of coal ash for beneficial reuse for such uses as, among other things, abandoned mine reclamation and acid mine drainage remediation.”
Coal ash residue is also recycled to make cement, wallboard, road base and other products, and it is also used for agricultural purposes.
Krancer pointed out that Pennsylvania has one of the largest inventories of abandoned mines in the nation.
“Put simply, EPA’s designation of coal residue as hazardous would put an end to the use of coal residue for acid mine drainage projects and abandoned mine reclamation projects,” Krancer said. “That would be devastating to the commonwealth.”
For more information and to read the letter, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the button labeled “Sec. Krancer’s letter urging support of the Coal Residuals and Management Act.”