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Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DOYLE. Coal ash is a serious issue for this country and especially for Pennsylvania. Nearly all of my constituents get their power from coal, and with that power generation comes its byproduct--coal ash. It's an unavoidable part of our power generation in southwestern Pennsylvania.

And though the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has some of the toughest coal ash disposal standards in the country, I have been convinced that coal ash needs to be federally regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, known as RCRA.

Now, we've had the opportunity to vote on the coal ash issue several times this year. We've seen policy riders on appropriation bills and legislation that tied the hands of the Federal Government to regulate coal ash. I haven't supported a single one.

So let's be clear: I have no record of hamstringing EPA or limiting environmental protections. But there's been a lot of half-truths flying around about this bill, and I think we should clear things up. For the first time, coal ash disposal will be federally regulated under RCRA through programs run by the States. Though implemented by the States, the permit programs will be developed according to Federal standards from section 4010(c) of RCRA, the section that must serve as the baseline for these State permit programs that require criteria necessary to protect human health and the environment.

We've also heard this bill will create a ``race to the bottom'' whereby utilities will ship their coal ash to States with the least stringent regulations. That's just not realistic. If this were a real concern, utilities in Pennsylvania would already be doing this, as we have very strict regulation of coal ash. But utilities in Pennsylvania don't ship their coal ash out of State because it's just not economically feasible to do so.

I'm pleased to hear good, informed debate this morning with important points being made by both sides. We've made significant improvements to this bill, and there is still more that can be done. But we need the chance to move legislation that will for the first time allow us to federally regulate coal ash. I believe this bill was the necessary vehicle to move that goal forward, and I encourage my colleagues to support it.

I yield to my colleague from Texas.

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