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Congress Amends Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Establishes New Coal Ash Permit Program

On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law. The WIIN Act is heralded as a bill addressing navigation and flood control, and authorizes funding to address drinking water emergencies in communities like Flint, Michigan. Included in the WIIN Act are amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that create a new state permit program for the management and closure of coal combustion residuals (CCR) units. The amendment authorizes states to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval of a permit program or alternative approval system for regulating CCR units that would operate in lieu of the CCR Rule.[1] The amendment allows states to adopt different technical standards from the CCR Rule so long as the standards are at least as protective as the federal rule. In circumstances where a state does not seek approval of a permit program or where EPA denies a state application, the amendments require EPA to adopt a permit program in lieu of the self-implementing rule, provided Congress provides funding for EPA to carry out a permit program. If no permit program is in effect in a state, the CCR Rule will remain self-implementing.

Along with approval of a permit program comes new federal enforcement authority. With the signing of the WIIN Act, EPA now has authority to enforce the implementation of the CCR Rule and an approved state or federal permit program. It is important to note that EPA’s enforcement authority is in addition to the ability of environmental groups or states to bring citizen suits.

The passage of the WIIN Act creates opportunities to influence how the CCR Rule is implemented through the development of state and federal permit programs.


[1] Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System; Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities.  80 Fed. Reg. 21301 (Apr. 17, 2015) (“CCR Rule”)

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About this Author

Joshua More, Civil Litigation, Compliance Counseling Lawyer, Schiff Hardin, Law Firm

Joshua R. More's practice includes civil litigation, compliance counseling, regulatory advocacy and transactional support, including:

  • Major New Source Review (NSR) enforcement actions
  • Defense of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) citizen suits
  • Voluntary site remediations
  • Permitting analysis
  • Notices of violation
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) removal and remedial actions
  • Defense of mass tort claims arising from environmental exposures to hazardous substances
  • ...
312-258-5769
Amy Antoniolli, environmental attorney, Schiff Hardin, permit appeals legal counsel, environment regulations lawyer, Illinois Pollution Control law
Staff Attorney

Amy Antoniolli concentrates her practice on environmental matters, advising clients on compliance with relevant laws and regulations and representing them in permit appeals, requests for relief from regulations and in rulemakings.

Amy’s prior experience as Assistant Attorney for the Illinois Pollution Control Board and as Assistant Counsel to the Illinois House of Representatives informs her work at Schiff Hardin and regularly benefits her clients.

Having advised the Board Members of the Illinois Pollution Control Board on environmental statutory and regulatory interpretation, she is better able to advise her clients on compliance with the law in the multitude of environmental matters that come under the Board’s jurisdiction and control. Because Amy served as an Illinois Pollution Control Board Hearing Officer, she is better able to ensure her clients’ perspectives are heard— and favorably acted upon.

When her clients’ site-specific situation clearly falls outside the rules, Amy’s experience with the Illinois legislature, where she drafted legislation and advised representatives on proposed legislation, has aided her in crafting site-specific new rule proposals for her clients— rules that have been adopted and, more importantly, have allowed her clients to proceed beyond the costly standstill of regulatory non-compliance.

312-258-5550