Inhofe, Senators Applaud Senate Passage of the Coal Combustion Residuals Regulatory Improvement Act


WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Sens. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.),  Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and  Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) praised the inclusion of Sec. 8001 to authorize state programs for the control of coal combustion residuals in S. 2848 the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2016, which passed today by a vote of 95 to 3.


“This bipartisan legislation that is in WRDA 2016 gives states the needed flexibility and authority to regulate coal ash to best support their state economies while also protecting the health of families and communities,” Inhofe said. “This provision provides utilities the regulatory certainty they have been seeking and corrects the implementation problems with EPA’s recent coal ash rule.  I thank Sens. Hoeven and Manchin for keeping this issue alive in recent years and Ranking Member Boxer, Sen. Capito and the other EPW Committee members for coming together to craft this compromise language.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to getting this compromise coal ash legislation enacted into law.” 


“States, not the EPA, know how to best regulate within their own borders,” Capito said. “This commonsense, bipartisan approach will allow states to set up their own permitting programs for recycling and reusing coal ash, providing needed certainty to industry and businesses, while ensuring the health and safety of families and communities." 


“I am proud we were able to come together and pass this commonsense legislation that will protect jobs and our economy, while giving families and businesses the certainty they need,” Manchin said. “The overregulation of coal ash by the EPA would threaten vital industries and unnecessarily cost West Virginia and the nation more jobs. This bipartisan measure would give states the ability to take the lead on setting up their own permitting programs to make sure coal ash is safely recycled and reused under existing EPA health and environment regulations. This legislation now heads over to the House, where I will work to ensure its passage and its eventual signing into law.”


“This is a double win in terms of reduced energy costs for consumers and improved environmental stewardship,” Hoeven said. “Coal ash has a wide range of safe and cost-effective applications, including in the construction of buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Our bill is a bipartisan compromise that enforces standards through state-led permit programs, rather than through costly lawsuits.”



“This commonsense provision will allow states and the EPA to enforce environmental standards that protect our environment while also giving companies and communities the certainty they need—and I’m proud that it’s the result of true bipartisan collaboration to achieve real results,” McCaskill said.  


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule on Dec. 19, 2014, to regulate the management and disposal of coal combustion residuals from utilities as a nonhazardous waste under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  Because of the limited authority under RCRA Subtitle D, the EPA rule’s requirements apply directly to facilities and are enforceable only by citizen suits.  This bipartisan legislation would authorize State permit programs subject to EPA approval and oversight to regulate coal combustion residual units:


Sets forth the process and standards for EPA approval (and withdrawal) of a State permitting programs for coal combustion residual units. State may incorporate either the requirements of the EPA rule into its permit program or other State requirements that, based on site-specific conditions, are at least as protective as the EPA rule. 


  • Authorizes EPA to operate permit program in States that have not been authorized.
  • Clarifies that a coal ash residual unit is subject to the EPA rule until a permit is issued by either the State or EPA.
  • Provides the EPA with inspection and enforcement authorities.  Before EPA can take enforcement action in an authorized State, EPA must consider any other actions against the facility and determine an enforcement action by EPA “is likely to be necessary” to ensure the facility is operating in accordance with its permit requirements.
  • Authorizes EPA to operate a permit program in Indian country.
  • Provides a permit shield for facilities that are operating in accordance with their State or EPA issued permit.
  • Preserves other legal authorities or regulatory determinations in effect prior to enactment.


This legislation  was developed with input from states, the regulated community, environmental groups, and EPA.