The generation of electricity in coal-based power plants creates a non-hazardous waste called coal combustion residuals (CCRs). Today, approximately 40 percent of CCRs are recycled and used in products such as cement, concrete, wallboard, roofing materials, and agricultural applications. The beneficial use of CCRs helps to create jobs and delivers environmental and safety benefits.
The electric power industry strongly supports regulating the disposal of CCRs, including coal ash, in order to strengthen both environmental protection and impoundment safety. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations in June 2010 to govern the disposal of coal ash and other CCRs, but the agency’s rulemaking process has been delayed.
Congress can develop the framework for managing coal ash more quickly and more effectively than EPA. Congress should act now to pass legislation that regulates coal ash right while protecting the environment, jobs, and electricity consumers.