A House Natural Resources subcommittee just finished a hearing on committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall’s bill to regulate coal-ash impoundments, and one thing that jumped out at me was the lack of any support from the Obama administration.
John Cranyon, chief of regulatory support at the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, explained it this way:
The Department of the Interior and the Administration are currently weighing how best to address this legislation. The Administration has not yet come to a conclusion as we consider different regulatory authorities and approaches for this issue, but will do so in the future.
Cranyon then went on to criticize the bill, saying — among other things — that Rahall’s requirement that OSM write dam-safety rules for coal-ash impoundments within 6 months is “ambitious” and “would be difficult to meet.”
Cranyon’s remarks probably didn’t surprise environmental groups, who aren’t too happy about the prospect of OSM taking the lead in regulating coal-ash management anyway.
â€œPutting OSM in charge of regulating toxic coal combustion waste is like having a fox guard the hen house,â€ said Mary Anne Hitt, Deputy Director of the Sierra Clubâ€™s Move Beyond Coal Campaign. â€œAlready on OSMâ€™s watch, dozens of coal waste impoundments have failed. EPA on the other hand has studied the issue for 30 years and has the expertise to quickly and effectively regulate coal combustion waste in a way that takes into account the impact to human health and the environment.â€
Of course, as Rahall pointed out during today’s hearing, EPA has studied the issue for 30 years, but still hasn’t acted to regulate coal ash.
You can read all of the testimony at the committee’s Web site.Â
[UPDATED: Archived video of the hearing:Â http://resources.edgeboss.net/wmedia/resources/2009_02_12_emr.wvx]