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Mr. RENACCI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of this motion to instruct the Surface Transportation bill conferees. The EPA's proposed rule to classify coal ash as a hazardous material is yet another example of this administration's continual attack on coal and the affordable domestic energy it generates.
The production and use of coal ash has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry supporting thousands of jobs in my home State of Ohio. Coal ash is used in more than 75 percent of the concrete primarily because of its cost effectiveness. Eliminating it would force concrete producers to use expensive alternatives, driving up the cost of building roads and bridges in America by more than $5 billion a year. That means construction costs won't go as far at a time when our infrastructure is in dire need of repair.
In addition, classifying coal ash as a hazardous material will prove extremely costly for coal-fired power plants. Some energy companies may analyze the costs and find it simply too expensive to continue operating. Others may attempt to pass the new costs on to consumers in the form of higher utility costs. Either way, the outcome would be devastating for a State like Ohio that derives 80 percent of its electric power from coal. With our economy still struggling, that is the last thing Ohio businesses, construction companies, and families need right now.
Despite decades of research and studies concluding there is no reason to consider coal ash hazardous, many of which the EPA itself carried out, the Agency now appears willing to jeopardize thousands of jobs with this inaccurate ruling. It is critical that efforts are taken to prevent the implementation of this regulation. Instead, allow each State to set up their own coal ash recycling programs following existing EPA health and environmental regulations. This approach will protect jobs and our economy in my home State and across America.
I applaud Representative McKinley for his continued leadership on this issue, and I urge the conferees to keep the bipartisan House language in the final version of the Surface Transportation bill.
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