Law should encourage fly ash recycling

(Billings Gazette 7-1-2012) The Corette power plant employs 40 hard-working Montanans. The plant recycles fly ash – a byproduct of burning coal – for beneficial uses like concrete production. But those jobs could be in peril if Congress doesn’t pass a provision in the highway bill to encourage the use of fly ash by creating an environmental standard and giving states the regulatory authority.
When blended with cement, fly ash can be used to build roads, bridges, runways and rail transit systems. Among its environmental advantages, recycling fly ash puts to good use an ingredient we are already producing, as well as cutting water and energy consumption and CO2 emissions. If the Corette plant didn’t recycle and sell fly ash, it would have to be shipped elsewhere and deposited in a landfill.
Last year, Corette sold about 18,000 tons of fly ash, about half for construction and transportation projects. That creates jobs – from selling fly ash to building infrastructure in Montana. Nationally, there are about a quarter million jobs building infrastructure with fly ash.
Projects built with cement and fly ash last longer and cost less than those built with cement alone. Bridges can last a century and highways for 80 years. This year, fly ash will save the country $5.2 billion and the Montana Department of Transportation $12.5 million.
Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester should make sure the federal highway bill encourages the use of fly ash.
John Roeber
President, State Building and Construction Trades Council
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