In the course of generating and distributing electric power to more than 42 million consumers, electric cooperatives manage and dispose of a wide variety of waste materials, from broken wood poles and used trucks to scrubber sludge. Electric cooperatives support federal regulations on waste management that are scientifically sound, cost-effective and balance consumer interest and environmental protection.
Cooperative Management of Coal Combustion Residuals
Coal-fired electricity generation in the U.S. annually produces about 136 million tons of coal combustion residuals (CCR), including coal ash. For decades, cooperatives have partnered with construction and other industries to reuse CCR in cement, concrete, wallboard, roofing materials, agriculture, and many other applications. In fact, about 57 million tons – about 45 percent — of CCR are recycled, helping to create jobs and keep this material out of landfills. NRECA, through the Cooperative Research Network (CRN), is researching even more uses for CCR.
The remaining 73 million tons of CCR end up in surface impoundments and landfills. NRECA supports coal ash management policies, including federal legislation that will ensure environmental protection and impoundment safety without discouraging beneficial CCR reuse. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined in 2000 that CCR sent to surface impoundments and landfills was not hazardous. The Agency did, however, determine that consistent, national CCR management standards are warranted since only some states regulate CCR.
Where We Stand
NRECA supports federal legislation that (1) establishes a non-hazardous framework for regulating CCR waste and (2) gives states the responsibility for administering such regulations pursuant to minimum federal criteria.