Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic
Coal and Coal Ash Waste
The EPA is in the process of considering landmark regulation that might, for the first time, regulate coal combustion waste as hazardous waste under RCRA. This rulemaking was prompted by the catastrophic dam failure that led to tragic consequences for the community of Kingston, Tennessee. It is also responding to numerous studies demonstrating the ongoing public health and environmental effects from the leaking and seeping of toxic materials from surface impoundments and unlined landfills around the country. Although EPA’s initial proposal contemplated a hazardous waste designation for coal combustion waste, under pressure from industry and the Office of Management and Budget, EPA has issued a proposed rule that presents two options, including the hazardous waste designation as well as a virtually meaningless solid waste listing. ENRLC joined a coalition of environmental organizations (including Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, and others) and contributed to a comprehensive set of public comments urging EPA to adopt the hazardous waste approach in its final rule. ENRLC contributed to this effort by evaluating the inadequacy of existing regulatory controls in several states, the problems with proposed hybrid regulatory approaches, as well as other aspects of the rule.