"OIRA Meetings Stir Controversy over Coal Ash Regulation"

"Industry representatives have repeatedly visited the White House to discuss pending regulation of coal ash, raising suspicions that industry may be influencing the rule. In December, amid these meetings, EPA announced it was backing away from its earlier pledge to propose coal ash regulations by the end of 2009.

EPA’s proposal to regulate coal ash – the byproduct of coal power plants that drew national attention after a late-2008 billion gallon spill in Tennessee – was sent to OIRA Oct. 16, 2009, 87 days ago. The meetings started shortly thereafter. By OIRA’s own rules, the review is to last no longer than 90 days, but it may be extended once by 30 days. Like almost all rules sent to OIRA at this early stage in the rulemaking process, the details of EPA’s coal ash proposal are unknown.

The sheer number of meetings being held to discuss this rule is noteworthy. By my count, OIRA has held 23 meetings on the rulemaking. 19 of those meetings have featured representatives from industries or interests opposed to coal ash regulation. The other four have included environmental advocates. If the coal ash rule ends up not as strong as it could have been, I think it’s fair to assume that industry influenced the rulemaking, and that OIRA is complicit.

But until we see a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register, we won’t know what the impact of these meetings has been."

Matthew Madia reports for OMB Watch January 11, 2010.

See Also:

"White House, EPA at Odds Over Coal-Waste Rules" (Wall St. Journal)

"Industry Pressuring Obama on Coal-Ash Rules" (Coal Tatoo/Charleston Gazette)

"Spat Between White House, EPA Could Derail Federal Coal Ash Rules" (Iowa Independent)

"While EPA Delays Decision on Coal Ash, Industry and White House Busy With Backdoor Meetings on Issue, Documents Show" (CPR Blog)

Source: OMB Watch, 01/13/2010