Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) submitted testimony in support of the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2013, which was heard by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. The Act would create a state permit process for combustion coal residuals (also referred to as CCRs, coal ash, or fly ash) and set minimal federal standards for the states to follow.
Coal ash is a by-product of generating electricity from coal and instead of being emitted out of power plant stacks it is being collected. Further, entrepreneurial minded individuals have discovered productive ways to utilize coal ash instead of sending it to landfills. Adding coal ash creates a stronger, longer lasting, and easier to work with concrete that's used in our nation's infrastructure. Other products enhanced by coal ash include: ceramic tiles, cultured stone, carpet, paint, insulation for stoves and refrigerators, ceiling and flooring tiles, lumber, bricks and masonry, and shingles and roofing materials.
"Coal ash is used to make better bridges, like the new I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, better footings for wind towers that span our prairie, and better roads we drive on every day," Cramer said. "Further, with the utility companies' ability to sell this by-product they're able to keep electric rates down for everyone."
The Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2013 is in reaction to a 2010 EPA proposal to deem coal ash a hazardous waste. The result of EPA's proposal would mean landfills full of coal ash, weaker products, and increased electric rates. The result of this legislation cosponsored by Congressman Cramer would be minimum federal requirements for its disposal, which are already exceeded by the North Dakota Department of Health, stronger products, and lower electric rates.
"Designation of coal ash as a hazardous waste would add significant costs to a number of consumers and fill our nation's landfills instead of putting the product to good use," Cramer said. "It's bad for jobs, bad for consumers, and bad for the environment."
Congressman Cramer served as a North Dakota Public Service Commissioner from 2003, where he carried the coal portfolio, until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. The Public Service Commission included within its jurisdiction the regulation of electricity rates. The Congressman is a member of the House Natural Resources and Science, Space and Technology Committees.