"EPA Backed Off 'Hazardous' Label for Coal Ash After WH Review"

"U.S. EPA's proposed regulation of coal ash as a hazardous waste was changed at the White House to give equal standing to an alternative favored by the coal industry and coal-burning electric utilities.

The Obama administration is now considering two competing rules for regulating the ash that contains toxins that include arsenic, lead and mercury. The first would set binding federal disposal requirements for the ash, and the second would label the ash nonhazardous and leave enforcement to the states (E&ENews PM, May 4).

EPA released the two-headed proposal Tuesday for public comments.

But there was just one rule proposal that EPA sent to the White House's Office of Management and Budget last October and that would have labeled coal ash a hazardous waste, documents released yesterday show. EPA said then that compliance with the hazardous-waste regulations would be more expensive but that costs would be outweighed by health and environmental benefits.

EPA wrote then that 'maintaining a [nonhazardous] approach would not be protective of human and the environment.'"

Patrick Reis reports for Greenwire May 7, 2010.

Source: Greenwire, 05/10/2010