Lignite Waste Handled Well in North Dakota

(Bismarck Tribune 1-10-2010) North Dakota's coal-fired plants, regulated by the state and monitored by the health department, have a history of responsible citizenship when it comes to waste. Perhaps it's because of the important legislation written in the 1970s regarding coal mining, reclamation and power plant operations. The state was proactive in defining how the lignite-related industries would behave right from the beginning. Those regulations were the result of hard-fought hearings and debates, with passionate voices for and against development. There was no easy pass.
The Environmental Protection Agency, however, has begun work drafting a coal-waste rule. It comes in response to the horrific breach in a coal ash impoundment near Knoxville, Tenn., late in 2008. It will cost the federal government $1 billion to clean up the mess. Coal waste isn't necessarily hazardous waste, a possible definition in the EPA rule writing. And Tennessee  isn't North Dakota. One-size-fits-all federal regulations would be unwise in dealing with coal waste. And classifying it as a hazardous waste would go too far without significant environmental or health benefit.
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