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EPA’s Coal Ash Rule Relies on Unique Enforcement Framework

On December 19, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a prepublication version of its much-anticipated final rule for the management and disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs). (At the time this article went to press, the final rule had not yet been published in the Federal Register.) EPA’s final rule regulates CCRs as non-hazardous solid waste under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The final rule establishes national standards for location restrictions, design and operating criteria, inspections, groundwater monitoring, corrective action, closure, and various reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The final rule also provides regulatory clarity for the beneficial use of CCRs. EPA, however, deferred action on its previous Bevill regulatory determination, leaving open the possibility that CCRs could be regulated as hazardous waste in the future.