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EPA ordered to set deadline for coal ash regulations

World Coal,

A federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., has issued a formal order stating the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has 60 days to set a deadline for issuing revised coal ash regulations.

The memorandum was written in response to a lawsuit filed by multiple environment and public health groups that claimed the agency had failed to appropriately complete its review process in accordance with provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Judge Reggie B. Walton of the US District Court for the District of Columbia announced earlier this month that he would find in favour of the plaintiffs, a group of 11 organisations challenging the EPA’s delay in moving forward. The lawsuit outlined the duty of the EPA to review and, if necessary, to revise its waste regulations under the RCRA every three years. Those regulations include solid waste regulations related to coal ash disposal. The full written order gives the EPA 60 days to come up with a schedule for issuing the revised rules.

The dispute stems from the EPA’s alternate proposals set in June 2010 for new coal ash rules under RCRA, which came in the wake of the December 2008 failure of a coal ash impoundment at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal-fired power plant. The incident released over 5 million cubic yards of fly ash into the Emory River, which required a huge cleanup effort.

Although Walton explained the court is sensitive to the EPA’s desire to conduct its review and revision of the regulations at issue in a responsible fashion, he stated the court “cannot permit the EPA to set its own schedule to the extent that the EPA’s non-discretionary duty is pursued in a manner dictated solely by the Agency’s discretion.”

The EPA had requested a further six months to complete its review, but the court felt 60 days was sufficient.

Edited from various sources by Katie Woodward

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