As reported by the U.S.-based Waste Business Journal, U.S. environmental groups want the EPA to move quickly with planned rulemaking that would reverse a controversial Bush administration regulation that allowed waste from mountaintop mining and other activities to be considered “fill material,” allowing its disposal without strict EPA discharge permits.
Behind the effort is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which sent out a March 15, 2010 email to constituents pressing for immediate action.
At issue is a 2002 Bush rule that expanded the regulatory definition of what constitutes “fill,” which is exempted from the Clean Water Act’s definition of “pollutants” subject to regulation under EPA’s section 402 discharge permit requirements.
Instead, the waste disposal is regulated under less strict permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the water act.
The issue reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in “Coeur Alaska v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council” that the EPA can use discretion to categorize mining tailings and other pollutants as “fill material” exempt from strict discharge limits.
Since the court’s ruling, environmentalists worry that a regulatory fix is needed to prevent other industries, including power plants, chemical and cement manufacturers and solid waste landfills, from disposing of their wastes under similarly lenient conditions.
People can voice their opinions on this issue by sending a message to their representatives urging them to support and cosponsor the Clean Water Protection Act (H.R. 1310) to help end mountaintop removal mining and protect the Appalachian Mountains.