It was good to finally see some attention to the lack of federal regulatory action on coal ash (Feb. 26 news story). However, the article failed to point out the role of Congress in this evasion of responsibility.
With no space to go into the long history of congressional obstruction of coal ash regulation, I will simply point out that H.R. 2218, introduced in 2013 and cosponsored by N.C. Rep. Renee Ellmers, has passed the House and is being “held at the desk” in the Senate. This bill requires the EPA to direct states to regulate coal residuals under their solid waste programs, which would block regulation of coal ash as a hazardous waste and treat it essentially like household garbage.
Holding a bill at the desk means that the bill could be sent straight to the Senate floor, bypassing review and hearings in Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, an action to which she has objected, saying that an analysis by the Congressional Research Service raises serious concerns about the bill’s failure to provide the protections necessary to safeguard communities near coal waste sites across the nation.