The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just announced it was delaying the release of its proposed rules on coal ash handling and disposal for an unspecified “short period.”
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had promised to issue the rule — prompted in large part by the coal-ash disaster a year ago in East Tennessee (See photo above) — by the end of 2009.
Here’s the statement from EPA’s press office:
EPA’s pending decision on regulating coal ash waste from power plants, expected this month, will be delayed for a short period due to the complexity of the analysis the agency is currently finishing.
As part of her commitment to ensuring the protection of public health and the environment regarding coal ash, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson had set a deadline to complete the regulatory decision before the close of this year. However, the agency is still actively clarifying and refining parts of the proposal.
Coal ash is a by-product of the combustion of coal at power plants, which is collected and later disposed of on land. Coal ash was brought prominently to national attention in 2008 when an impoundment holding disposed ash waste generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority broke open, creating a massive spill in Kingston, TN, that covered millions of cubic yards of land and river and is regarded as one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind in history. Shortly afterwards, EPA began overseeing the cleanup, as well as investigating the structural integrity of impoundments where ash waste is stored.
Administrator Jackson has been committed since the beginning of her Administration to complete these efforts, and expects to issue a proposed rule in the near future.