CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A federal judge on Tuesday gave the Obama administration 60 days to come up with a schedule for finalizing its long-delayed new rules on the handling and disposal of toxic coal ash from power plants.U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to come up with a concrete timeline for its review and revisions to coal-ash regulations.Walton ruled in a case brought by the law group Earthjustice on behalf of Appalachian Voices and a variety of other coalfield citizen groups and environmental organizations.
"The decision by this federal court to put the EPA on a schedule for finalizing federal coal ash regulations is a victory for the communities and neighborhoods living next to these toxic sites," the citizen groups said in a statement. "Federal protection is long overdue."EPA promised the first-ever federal regulations on the handling and disposal of coal ash years ago, following the December 2008 collapse of a coal-ash impoundment in Tennessee.When it issued a proposal for coal-ash rules in June 2010, EPA did not settle on a specific plan. Instead, the agency sought public comments on one approach that would regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, with nationwide regulations, oversight and enforcement, and an alternative that would leave actual regulation mostly up to the states.Reach Ken Ward Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1702.