H.R. 2218: Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013

H.R. 2218

Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013

Date
July 24, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, July 24, 2013 the House will begin consideration of H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013, under a rule.  H.R. 2218 was introduced on June 3, 2013 by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and has 54 cosponsors.  H.R. 2218 was ordered reported by the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as amended, on June 19, 2013 by a vote of 31-16.[1]

Bill Summary

H.R. 2218 establishes Federal minimum requirements for the management and disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR).[1]  H.R. 2218 allows States to develop CCR or “coal ash” permit programs, as long as they meet the Federal minimum requirements provided in the bill.   Alternatively, a State may choose to allow the EPA to administer its CCR permit program.  The bill “remov[es] the option for EPA to regulate [CCR] under Subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act.”[2] 

H.R. 2218 requires states “to notify EPA within six months of enactment whether . . . they intend to implement their own CCR permit program.  Within 3 years, the States [will be] required to provide EPA details of the laws, regulations, and other features of their permit programs.  If a State declines to implement its own permit program or, after notice and comment, EPA determines that a State’s program falls short of the minimum standards in this bill, then EPA would take steps to implement a permit program for that State.  If a state corrects a deficiency noted by EPA or chooses to take back its own permit program, the bill provides a mechanism by which a State may do so.  The bill also sets out specific criteria for EPA to make a determination regarding whether a State permit program is deficient. “[3]

The Federal minimum requirements established in H.R. 2218 “include certain criteria set out in Part 258 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations for managing municipal waste and other requirements that would apply specifically to the management and disposal of CCRs.[4]  The requirements include provisions for structural integrity, wind dispersal, public availability of information, design requirements, groundwater monitoring and corrective action, closure and post-closure, air quality, financial assurance, surface water, run-on and run-off for land based structures, run-off for surface impoundments, and location restrictions for structures established after enactment.”[5]  The bill also requires a CCR permit program to, at a minimum, provide for annual inspections and periodic evaluations of structures.[6] 

H.R. 2218 establishes a timeline for States to begin issuing permits once their permit programs are certified, and provides guidance for compliance with certain minimum standards during the intervening time.


[1] CCR or “coal ash” is inorganic residue that remains after pulverized coal is burned. Id. at 23.

[2] Committee Memorandum Re: Markup of H.R. 2218, Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013; H.R. 2279, Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013; H.R. 2226, Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act of 2013; and H.R. 2318, Federal Facility Accountability Act of 2013 (June 14, 2013) at 2.

[3] Id. at 2-3.

[4] The bill also “contains specific requirements for unlined surface impoundments that do not meet the design criteria in Part 258 to meet a groundwater protection standard.” Id. at 3.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

Background

CCR or “coal ash” is inorganic residue that remains after pulverized coal is burned.[1]  “Of the 135 million tons of [CCR] generated in 2009, approximately 94 million tons (69%) was disposed of.  Disposal occurred in landfills, surface impoundments, and as minefill.  The remaining 40.7 million tons was beneficially used in some capacity, primarily as an ingredient in certain building materials (e.g., concrete, cement, or gypsum wallboard), as structural fill, as a waste stabilization ingredient, and as blasting grit.”[2]

The Solid Waste Disposal Act (RCRA)[3] provides for regulation of the management and disposal of waste.  Subtitle C of RCRA addresses hazardous waste, directing the EPA “to develop criteria for identifying the characteristics of ‘hazardous’ waste and to develop waste management criteria applicable to such waste.  Subtitle D of RCRA established State and local governments as the primary planning, regulating, and implementing entities for the management of solid waste (i.e., household garbage . . . and non-hazardous industrial solid waste).”[4]

The Bevill Amendments, enacted in the Solid Waste Disposal Act Amendments of 1980,[5] “prevented EPA from imposing hazardous waste regulatory requirements for fossil fuel combustion (FFC) waste until EPA studied the issue to determine whether regulation of FFC waste under Subtitle C was warranted.”[6]  In 1993 and again in 2000, the EPA determined that regulating FFC waste, and CCR specifically, under Subtitle C of RCRA was not warranted.[7]  Currently, there is no federal standard for CCR and any regulation is performed on a state-by-state basis.

On June 21, 2010, the EPA issued a proposed rule “set[ting] out three regulatory options for management of [CCR].  One proposal would create an enforceable permit program for [CCR] under Subtitle C of RCRA.  The other two proposals would impose self-implementing requirements under Subtitle D of RCRA.”[8] 

CCR are used in a variety of products and applications, including concrete, wall board, and road base.  There is concern that the regulation of CCR as hazardous waste under Subtitle C would cause “an unwarranted stigma on [CCR] and threaten[] their beneficial re-use.”[9]  Additionally, regulation of CCR under Subtitle C would require EPA to reverse its previous regulatory determinations made pursuant to the Bevill Amendment.  There is concern that it does not have legal authority to do so.[10]  H.R. 2218 addresses these issues by ensuring CCR are not regulated as hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and by establishing requirements for proper management and disposal of CCR to encourage beneficial use.


[1] Committee Report 113-148 at 23.

[2] Linda Luther, EPA’s Proposal to Regulate Coal Combustion Waste Disposal: Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service (Oct. 7, 2011) at 9.

[3] 42 U.S.C. §6901 et seq.

[4] Committee Memorandum at 1-2.

[5] Public Law 96-482.

[6] Committee Memorandum at 2.

[7] Id.

[8] Committee Report 113-148 at 13.

[9] Id. at 13-14.

[10] Id. at 13-14.

Cost

Based on CBO scoring, “implementing this legislation would cost $2 million over the 2014-2018 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds.  Enacting H.R. 2218 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”  In addition, the bill would impose intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and “would impose an intergovernmental and private-sector mandate on owners and operators of structures that receive CCR by establishing minimum federal requirements for the management and disposal of CCR.”

Amendments

1)         Rep. Connolly (D-VA) Amendment #4 Amendment requires States to update their certification documents with EPA and to include in those documents a State emergency action plan for responding to spills or leaks.

2)         Rep. Waxman (D-CA) Amendment #6Amendment ensures that state permit programs are protective of human health and the environment.

3)         Rep. Tonko (D-NY) Amendment #7Amendment requires the EPA Administrator to find a State coal combustion residual permit program deficient if the implementation of the program threatens human health or the environment in any other State.  Any State may request that the EPA Administrator review another state’s coal combustion residuals permit program for deficiency.

Additional Information

For more information, see the fact sheet on H.R. 2218 provided by the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.