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EPA to reconsider final rule regulating coal ash

Agency grants 2 petitions to reconsider major portions of the 2015 CCR rule

Posted September 20, 2017

On September 14, EPA agreed to examine major portions of its coal ash final rule. The Agency granted two petitions to reconsider the final rule that regulates coal combustion residuals (CCR) as nonhazardous waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

EPA determined that it was both appropriate and in the public’s interest to reconsider specific provisions in the final CCR rule based on the authority provided through the Water Infrastructure for Improvements to the Nation (WIIN) Act. EPA stressed it is not committing to changing any part of the rule, or agreeing with the merits of the petitions, but it is simply granting the petitions to reconsider parts of the rule. Should the Agency decide to revise the final CCR rule, it will go through the notice and comment period.

The first petition, from the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, submitted May 12, 2017, seeks reconsideration of 11 provisions in the final CCR, including provisions prohibiting the use of alternative points of compliance for groundwater contamination, regulating inactive surface impoundments, and defining what activities constitute beneficial use of CCR.

The second petition, from AES Puerto Rico LLP, was submitted May 31, 2017, and seeks reconsiderations of certain on-site storage practices.

The final CCR rule went into effect in October 2015. It regulates how CCR generated from electric utilities and independent power producers is managed and disposed of in surface impoundments and landfills. The rule also defines “beneficial uses” of CCR.

The WIIN Act became law in December 2016. The Act provides authority for states to operate permit programs under subtitle D of RCRA, as long as EPA determines the state’s requirements are at least as protective as the standards in the 2015 final rule.

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