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EPA Makes the Right Decision on Coal Ash

During December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized regulations for the safe disposal of coal ash from power plants, which is more formally referred to as coal combustion residuals (CCRs). Rather than classifying it as hazardous waste, the rule establishes technical requirements for CCR landfills and surface impoundments under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the primary law for regulating solid waste.

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A Difficult Year Ends with a Few Positive Signs

December was not a complete wash. Coal Age is reporting a few good stories this month, which helps break up the monotonous reports of WARN notices and companies exiting the coal business. First off, coal production is holding steady compared to last year, which might be the new norm. Total coal production for the U.S. currently stands at 925 million tons, 0.4% more than one year ago. America’s coal miners are producing more than 85 million tons per month, so 2014 should remain above the psychologically important 1-billion-ton mark.

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Strong Allegations

Former Massey Energy Chairman and CEO Donald L. Blankenship was indicted during November. It didn’t make the cover of the Wall Street Journal, but word spread quickly through the coalfields, especially in West Virginia. While the lead news story (See News, p. 4) covers the charges that have been leveled in detail, many of the allegations are intense.

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A Failure to Report

At the beginning of October, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a press release declaring that the agency’s reforms related to pattern of violations (PoV) had made mines safer. As the stepped-up PoV program nears its second anniversary, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joe Main called it a game changer for the culture of mine safety and health.

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Finding Ways to Work Together

By Steve Fiscor

The state of Oregon's decision to reject a critical permit for the planned Morrow Pacific coal export terminal caught many by surprise last month (see Breaking News, p. 4). Coal Age has reported on this project regularly since its inception. Clark Moseley and his team at Morrow Pacific demonstrated that the project would meet Oregon's high standards of doing business while protecting the environment. It had already received three permits to date from the state of Oregon. In the end, however, an administrator succumbed to pressure from a handful of environmental groups.

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