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EPA proposes to approve partial coal ash permit programme

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World Coal,

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to approve the Texas partial permit programme for the management of coal combustion residuals – commonly known as CCR or coal ash – in landfills and surface impoundments. If approved, this would make Texas the third state in the nation to gain approval to operate a coal ash permit programme.

“EPA continues to encourage other states to assume oversight of coal ash management within their borders,” said EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler. “Texas deserves credit for taking over this responsibility and we are committed to working with the states as they establish coal ash programme tailored to their unique circumstances that are protective of human health and the environment.”

EPA has preliminarily determined that the partial Texas permit program application meets the standard for approval. Congress recognised the essential role of this local expertise in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016, which provided states the ability to develop and submit permit programmes to EPA for approval.

Major portions of the 2015 Final Rule on Coal Combustion Residuals Generated from Electric Utilities that established national standards for the disposal of coal ash are in effect and remain unchallenged. Once a state has an approved CCR permit programme in place, the WIIN Act contains provisions for how and when states must update their approved programmes when changes are made to the CCR requirements at the federal level. Texas did not apply for certain provisions of the federal CCR regulations for its permit programme, further explained in the ‘Federal Register’ notice, thus is seeking approval for its partial programme.

EPA is soliciting comments on this proposal for 60 days, during which a virtual public hearing will be held for interested persons to present information, comments, or views concerning this proposed programme.

EPA encourages all states with coal ash facilities to apply to establish their own permit programme as the states of Georgia and Oklahoma have done. Many states are already engaging with EPA on how to set up their own programmes and how their current state regulations can be revised to incorporate the federal requirements.

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