EPA Given 60 Days to Set Deadline for Coal Ash Regulations



On October 29, a federal judge hearing a case about coal ash issued a memorandum in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to finalize federal regulations. The Moapa Band of Paiutes are among those involved in the lawsuit against the EPA.

The EPA will have 60 days to “file a written submission with this Court setting forth a proposed deadline for its compliance with [EPA’s] obligation to review and revise if necessary its Subtitled D regulations concerning coal ash, along with its legal justification for its proposed deadline.”

The detailed memorandum the court issued on this lawsuit can be viewed here.

Environmental and public health groups received the backing of the Court who agreed that the EPA has a mandatory duty to review and revise if necessary its waste regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act every three years. Solid waste regulations as they relate to coal ash disposal fall under that mandatory.

According to a press release, the EPA is now required to provide a schedule for finalizing pending federal coal ash regulations that have languished since being proposed in 2010.

Earthjustice represented Appalachian Voices (NC); Chesapeake Climate Action Network (MD); Environmental Integrity Project (DC, PA); Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KY); Moapa Band of Paiutes (NV); Montana Environmental Information Center (MT); Physicians for Social Responsibility (DC); Prairie Rivers Network (IL); Sierra Club (DC); Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (eight southeast states); and Western North Carolina Alliance (NC) in the lawsuit.

A joint statement was released following the decision: “Coal ash has contaminated more than 200 rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers across the country. Hundreds of additional unlined and unmonitored coal ash dumpsites exist, as well as hundreds of potentially dangerous coal ash dams. The decision by this federal court to put the EPA on a schedule for finalizing federal coal ash regulations is a victory for the communities and neighborhoods living next to these toxic sites. Federal protection is long overdue. This December marks the 5th anniversary of the tragic coal ash spill in Kingston, [Tennessee], where a billion gallons of coal ash sludge destroyed 300 acres and dozens of homes. Our communities have waited long enough for protection from coal ash and we don’t want to see another Kingston disaster happen before federal protections are in place. We’re pleased to see that within the next two months, the EPA must set a deadline for finalizing these critical public health safeguards.”