WSJ Says White House and EPA at Odds on Coal Ash; Industry Meetings with OIRA on Issue at 17 and Counting

by James Goodwin

"White House, EPA at Odds Over Coal-Waste Rules" reads a headline in Saturday's Wall Street Journal. It's worth a look.

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has in fact continued to host meetings with outside groups regarding EPA’s work on a rule for controlling the disposal of hazardous coal ash waste. Since my last post on this topic, OIRA has hosted 10 more meetings on this topic. (These latest meetings were held between December 9 and January 4.) This brings the grand total of OIRA coal ash meetings to 21—all in a time span of less than 3 months!

The meetings are particularly significant since the industry is lobbying OIRA before EPA has even issued a proposed rule. By law, a proposed agency rule is followed by a public comment phase, where industry would have the full opportunity to make their case (see my previous post for more detail on the process).

Seven of the recent meetings were with industry groups, including representatives of industries that “reuse” coal ash, and the power industry (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). OIRA held an additional three meetings on the topic with public interest groups (see here, here, and here). In all then, OIRA has hosted 17 meetings with industry groups on coal ash and four meetings with public interest groups.

The WSJ's assessment is that the White House and EPA are "at odds" over the issue. EPA’s decision in December to postpone the completion of a proposed rule was certainly notable. And one thing is clear: The industry will continue to try to use OIRA to push EPA into developing a weak coal ash rule that benefits its own parochial interests at the expense of the public’s interest. We'll continue to keep an eye on it.

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