On June 3, 2013, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013 was reintroduced by Representative David McKinley (R-WV). The bill has already passed the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy, and observers expect a better chance at success this time around. The bill would amend RCRA Subtitle D to add a new section ("the Management and Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals"), under which coal ash would be regulated as solid waste, rather than hazardous waste. The bill would allow—but not require—states to establish a coal ash permitting program implementing standards established in the bill, including groundwater monitoring requirements and ash pond structural integrity standards.
The new version of the bill appears to address some of the concerns raised in the Congressional Research Service's assessment of the version introduced in the 112th Congress. Under McKinley's proposal, States would have three years to establish a coal ash permitting program. And the bill would give EPA oversight authority, allowing the Agency to identify deficiencies in state permitting programs and require states to bring their programs into compliance with federal requirements. If a state fails to meet the three-year deadline to establish a permitting program or fails to remedy permitting program deficiencies identified by EPA, EPA would be authorized to establish a permitting program in the state. Further, the bill would require states to issue final coal ash permits no later than seven years after enactment. Despite these revisions, environmental groups have criticized the bill as inadequate to protect human health.