America’s Electric Co-ops Welcome Coal Ash Provisions in Water Resources Bill

September 15, 2016 — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today applauded the Senate’s approval of critical coal ash management provisions as part of the Water Resources Development Act (S. 2848).

“These provisions inject some greatly needed certainty into the regulation of coal ash, much of which is recycled to provide tremendous economic and environmental benefits,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “By giving state agencies the authority to enforce federal coal ash regulations, the bill provides increased certainty surrounding the application of the regulations and also limits litigation, which is important to their safe management and continued beneficial use.”

The provisions were adapted from portions of a separate coal ash bill (S. 2446) authored by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).

“We thank Sens. Hoeven and Manchin—as well as Chairman Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member Boxer (D-Calif.), and Sens. Blunt (R-Missouri) and Capito (R-W.V.)—for their leadership on this issue and for guiding this bipartisan legislative solution to passage,” Matheson said.

In April 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a rule to establish federal requirements for the management of coal combustion residuals, or “coal ash,” as a non-hazardous waste. NRECA supported EPA’s decision to regulate coal ash in this manner, but has sought legislation to codify the agency’s decision and give states clear enforcement authority. The provisions approved by the Senate today provide that clear enforcement authority.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.