The head of the nation’s largest recycler of coal fly ash says the Obama administration has informed him that it will complete new regulations that will continue to treat the power plant waste as a non-hazardous substance.
Such a decision, expected to be unveiled in court as early as next week, would mark a victory for recyclers and utilities and a setback for environmentalists who have pressed to regulate coal ash more stringently as a hazardous waste.
Kirk A. Benson, chief executive of Utah-based Headwaters, Inc., told EnergyGuardian that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department plan to comply next week with a federal judge’s order to set a date to finalize new ash disposal regulations under Section D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which covers non-hazardous wastes.
The federal government and a Midwest utility on Wednesday announced a Clean Air Act settlement that would phase out coal use at five plants in Iowa and prevent the restart of a sixth, a development that environmentalists celebrated as marking the 200th coal plant closure nationwide since 2010.
The proposed settlement between the Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department and Interstate Power and Light, an Alliant Energy subsidiary, would have the company install pollution controls at its two remaining Iowa coal-fired plants, pay a $1.1 million penalty, and invest $6 million in environmental mitigation projects.
The major climate bill introduced last week by two key liberal senators would not only impose carbon fees on major energy sources and oil refiners, it would also effectively end President Barack Obama’s research and development into “clean coal.”
The Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy Research and Development would be eliminated under the Sustainable Energy Act introduced by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
The office got about $560 million for its work in 2012 and Obama proposed putting $421 million toward its programs this fiscal year.