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US House bill passes coal ash regulation to states

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World Coal,

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill (H.R. 1734) that would pass the authority to regulate coal ash to the states, bypassing a federal rule issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year.

In response, the White House said it would veto the bill as it would undermine the public health and environmental protections offered by the EPA rule.

Although the EPA chose not to regulate coal ash a hazardous waste, the new rule does include “clean and consistent national standards to […] prevent the contamination of drinking water and minimize the risk of catastrophic failure at coal ash surface impoundments,” said the White House.

It also allows the EPA to redesignate coal ash as hazardous in future, which Congressman David McKinley, the bill’s sponsor, said continues uncertainty for industry and regulators.

McKinley’s bill would allow states to set up a coal ash permit programme, using the federal rule as a minimum requirement. A similar bill has been introduced in the US Senate by Senators John Hoeven and Joe Manchin.

“We believe that H.R. 1734 would permanently resolve uncertainty surrounding coal ash management and create a more effective regulatory structure than APE can accomplish with its existing toolkit,” said the American Coal Ash Association.

The bill also met with approval from the Electric Utility Trade Association: “H.R. 1734 is essential to ensuring that coal combustion residual (CCR) disposal practices are substantially improved and the new CCR disposal requirements are implemented and enforced in a coherent, efficient and effective manner throughout the country.”

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