"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on schedule to release federal guidelines for the disposal of coal ash some time this month, but a potential loophole in the new rules has some worried they will leave Iowans unprotected.
For three decades, rules governing the disposal coal ash, the toxic byproduct of burning coal, have been left up to states, creating a patchwork of differing regulations with questionable effectiveness. However, after the massive coal ash spill in Kingston, Tenn., last year, which resulted in nearly a billion gallons of coal ash sludge flooding 300 acres of land, the EPA promised it would finally regulate coal ash.
But some fear the new rules may only cover ash stored in wet ponds, leaving sites many consider the most dangerous in the Hawkeye State unregulated.
A report released last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office laid out several potential options for federal regulations. Included among the possibilities is designating coal ash as a hazardous material if it's kept wet, and non-hazardous if it's moved to a dry landfill."