CCR Remand rule: A Utility Perspective
After a much debated March 2018 proposal in which the Environmental Protection Agency proposed over a dozen changes to the 2015 Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule, the EPA has unveiled the first of a two-part rulemaking.
The rulemaking revises this Obama-era regulation for governing the disposal of CCRs. The 2015 CCR rule established minimum national standards for the disposal of coal ash which, in some cases, forced early closure of CCR ponds.
The newly published CCR Remand Rule is an example of how the EPA is able to issue regulations that provide a science-based approach for protecting human health and the environment without undue economic stress on the utility industry.
The revised rule allows flexibility for compliance and annually saves the industry $28 million to $31 million in regulatory costs. The rule extends the life of some CCR ponds from April 2019 to October 31, 2020, which better aligns with the compliance dates for EPA’s Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG).
This extended deadline for when facilities must cease placing waste in CCR ponds is specific to only two situations: (1) where the facility has detected a statistically significant increase above a groundwater protection standard (GWPS) from an unlined CCR pond and (2) where the pond is unable to comply with the aquifer location restriction.
In addition to the aforementioned extensions, the rule revised groundwater-protection standards (GWPS) for cobalt, molybdenum, lead and lithium. These risk-based GWPS values can be used instead of using background values as the GWPS for these constituents.
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, “These amendments provide states and utilities much-needed flexibility in the management of coal ash, while ensuring human health and the environment are protected. Our actions mark a significant departure from the ‘one size fits all’ policies of the past and save tens of millions of dollars in regulatory costs.”
The second part of the rulemaking is expected to include the remaining issues from the EPA’s March 15, 2018, proposal including issues such as whether to allow risk-based corrective action and whether to add boron to Appendix IV.
Santee Cooper has a history of meeting or exceeding all federal regs, and we will continue to do so as these changes unfold.