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Utility industry officials and Republican lawmakers are criticizing enforcement provisions in EPA's final coal ash disposal rule that they say constrain states' flexibility in implementing the rule and opens the door to citizen suits, and say the incoming GOP-led 114th Congress must approve legislation to block those provisions.

Industry groups that are seeking to vacate EPA's finding that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a “solid waste” under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) say the agency should not be entitled to deference on its interpretation under the Supreme Court's Chevron doctrine, charging that EPA reversed its position without considering the issue in a “detailed and reasoned fashion” as Chevron requires.

Sen.-elect Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), who is slated to serve on both the energy and environment committees in the next Congress, has hired a long-time Democratic staffer to serve as her senior counsel on greenhouse gas (GHG) and other air quality issues, prompting ire among Republicans who worry the hire suggests Capito will not push back against the Obama administration's climate agenda.

EPA's final coal ash disposal rule released Dec. 19 regulates ash as a solid waste under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) -- a win for industry and many states but a loss for environmentalists who sought regulation of ash as a RCRA hazardous waste -- while partially delegating to states on enforcing the rule's requirements.

State regulators and community advisors are backing environmentalists' calls for EPA Region 5 to assess and mitigate potential exposures to dioxin through contaminated food as part of a novel cleanup in Michigan, calling for monitoring and land use controls, though industry is arguing the cleanup plan is already overly conservative.

EPA's children's health advisors are urging the agency to strengthen its draft fish consumption advice for pregnant women and children by adding several species to a "do not eat" list and offering more specific advice on health risks from consuming other species, backing advocates' claims that the draft fails to adequately limit mercury exposures.