EPA PROPOSES TO CLOSE SIX COAL ASH FACILITIES
February 7, 2023
By: M. Shane Harvey
On April 17, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency promulgated a rule establishing national minimum criteria for existing and new coal combustion residuals (CCR), landfills, and existing and new CCR surface impoundments.
The rule was challenged by both anti-coal groups and industry. In 2018, the D.C. Circuit Court addressed these challenges primarily in favor of the anti-coal groups in Utility Solid Waste Activities Group v. EPA, 901 F.3d 414 (D.C. Cir. 2018). We have previously addressed that ruling here: Coal Ash Rule: Rule Opponents Seek Immediate Closure of Existing Unlined Facilities
Following the DC Circuit’s ruling, the Trump Administration EPA promulgated rulemaking to deal with unlined CCR surface impoundments in two parts (Part A and Part B). Part A addressed closure of such impoundments. Part B provided a limited path forward for owners of unlined impoundments to remain open if they could demonstrate, using groundwater and other data, that there was “no reasonable probability of adverse effects to human health and the environment.”
On January 25, 2023, the Biden Administration EPA announced its determination with respect to six applications by CCR facilities to remain open under Part B. The Biden Administration proposed to deny all six proposals.
In a press release, EPA noted that its proposed denials were motivated in part by social justice concerns. “With today’s proposed denials, EPA is holding facilities accountable and protecting our precious water resources from harmful contamination, all while ensuring a reliable supply of electricity to our communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “We remain committed to working with our state partners to protect everyone, especially those in communities overburdened by pollution, from coal ash contamination now and into the future.”
EPA noted that it was proposing a process for the six facilities to seek additional time, “if needed to address demonstrated grid reliability issues.”
The six facilities are:
- Belle River Power Plant, China Township, Michigan.
- Coal Creek Station, Underwood, North Dakota.
- Conemaugh Generating Station, New Florence, Pennsylvania.
- Coronado Generating Station, St. Johns, Arizona.
- Martin Lake Steam Electric Station, Tatum, Texas.
- Monroe Power Plant, Monroe, Michigan.