McKinley's Jobs Bill on Coal Ash Passes Full House10/14/11
McKinley’s Jobs Bill on Coal Ash Passes Full House
W.Va. freshman’s compromise legislation passes with bipartisan support
Washington, D.C. – A jobs bill (H.R. 2273) authored by Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV), which for the first time sets minimum federal guidelines regulating coal ash while empowering the states to enforce them, passed the House Friday with overwhelming bipartisan support. McKinley’s legislation, which a Veritas study found could protect up to 316,000 jobs from being eliminated, was approved 267-144, with 37 Democrats voting yes. The Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr. today noted that the question of how to regulate coal ash has been “a long simmering issue ignored by many policymakers” – until now.
Rep. McKinley made the following statement about H.R. 2273 on the House floor today:
“Every day coal ash is produced in nearly 700 coal-fired generating plants in 48 of the 50 states in America. Approximately 140 million tons are produced annually with 40% of that coal ash being beneficially recycled. Over the years, scientists and entrepreneurs have found uses for coal ash through a variety of recycling options. Businesses were emboldened to recycle the material after two studies by the EPA in 1993 and in 2000 found that coal ash is not a hazardous material and could be used by the public. The findings of these two studies specifically state that there have been no documented cases of coal ash damaging human health or the environment. As a result industries have sprung up all across America and thousands of jobs have been created by recycling coal ash.
“After 30 years we finally resolved the issue today. H.R. 2273 is strongly endorsed by state environmental officials, including the Environmental Council of the States and the Association of State and Solid Waste Officials as well as various labor unions. I am pleased to see so many of my colleagues support this bipartisan, pro-jobs legislation.”
McKinley concluded by saying, “This is a jobs bill and a public health bill; protecting the livelihoods and the health of our working men and women are not mutually exclusive ideas.”
H.R. 2273 now moves to the Senate, where already fourteen Democrats have expressed support for the approach taken by McKinley’s legislation. Rep. Gene Green, a Democrat from Houston who rarely votes with Republicans on environmental issues, rose in support of McKinley’s legislation today and hailed its bipartisan nature: “We are doing something here that we don’t do very often in this House. We actually have a bill that came out of committee that has bipartisan support…this bill is something we don’t do on this floor in the last 10 months very often: we actually compromised and came up with good legislation, and we hope the Senate will pass it.”
In a Statement of Administration Policy this week, the White House notably did not threaten a veto of this bill unlike previous House-passed EPA bills.
H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, would ensure the continued beneficial use of coal combustion residuals and strengthen state regulatory authority over these materials under the Solid Waste Disposal Act. The legislation would prevent the Obama administration’s attempt to reclassify these materials as a hazardous waste— a designation previous administrations have deemed inappropriate.