Coal Ash Waste Disposal Introduction The disaster caused in Kingston, TN by the rupture of a wet coal ash pond in December 2008 opened the opportunity window for a debate that has been latent for more than 3 decades in the environmental policy making arena of the United States. This debate started when the Congress passed the Bevel’s Amendment submitted by Tom Evil, Alabamans Representative. The purpose of this bill was to exempt coal ash from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCA) enacted in 1976, which is a Federal Law that regulates the handling and disposal of hazardous waste.
This amendment required from the EPA studies that would certify coal ash’s negative impact to the environment in order to proceed with the hazardous labeling for coal ash and laid out the parameters within such studies should be carried out. In 1993, The EPA exempted pure coal ash from subtitle C of the RCA and in the year 2000 exempted coal ash mixed with other materials, such as scrubber waste. Currently the disposal of coal ash waste is being handled at a state level, but some states cannot impose restrictions more strict than those at a federal level.
Coal Ash is the suede that results from the burning of coal and pollution control scrubbers, mainly particulate matter and lime. It contains various heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and radioactive materials; when these components are inhaled, ingested or become in contact with the skin severe illnesses such as cancer, pulmonary diseases and fetal malformations in pregnant women can occur.
In this paper I will explore the need for Coal Ash waste disposal at a federal level using the theoretical model of Lesson Drawing. When policymakers need a hey embark themselves in a search of their own experience and what is done elsewhere is undertaken instrumentally in hopes of finding an answer. But in order to draw a lesson, it is necessary to search analytically rather than anecdotally. The collection of stories about how others deal with their problems is insufficient.
In order to draw a valid lesson, searchers must be more than mere travelers; they should understand the principles and practice of lesson-drawing (Rose 1993). 1 In his book Lesson Drawing in Public Policy, Rose explores how lessons are drawn through lick-makers’ dissatisfaction with the status quo and decisions that a program elsewhere may be capable of being put into effect in their environment (Rose, 1993, up. 1-11, 21-3).
A policy ‘lesson’ is defined as ‘more than a symbol invoked to sway opinion about a policy and more than a dependent variable telling a social scientist what is to be explained. A lesson is a detailed cause-and-effect description of a set of actions that government can consider in the light of experience elsewhere, including a prospective evaluation of whether what is done elsewhere could someday become effective here’ (Rose,1993, p. 27).
The emphasis of the lesson-drawing literature is on understanding the conditions under which policies or practices operate in exporter jurisdictions and whether and how the conditions which might make them work in a similar way can be created in importer Jurisdictions. In the lesson-drawing literature, the focus of the analysis is on issues such as how policies operate in the exporter jurisdiction, how they may be applied in the importer Jurisdiction and what modifications are needed to transpose between them (Page 2000). According to Rose, there are four broad stages involved in the process of lesson drawing searching” for sources of lessons, “making a model” of how the policy or practice works in situ, “creating a lesson” by assessing what can be extracted from the practice in the exporter Jurisdiction to produce the desired results in the importer jurisdiction and “prospective evaluation” of the way in which the policy or practice are likely to work in the importer Jurisdiction and adaptations needed to make it work.
This requires knowledge about the conditions that contribute to the relevant features of the operation of the policies or in the exporter Jurisdiction; knowledge of he potential impact of existing conditions in the importer Jurisdiction on the relevant features of the operation of the policies to be imported and knowledge about what can and should be changed to make the policy works satisfactorily in the importer jurisdiction (Page 2000). 3 Several processes are involved in lesson drawing. Copying’ involves enacting a more or less intact program already in effect; ‘adaptation’ is similar but involves adjusting for contextual differences; making a ‘hybrid’ consists of combining elements of programs from two different places; ‘synthesis’ is combining milliamp elements from programs in a number of different places to create new programs; and ‘inspiration’ is using programs elsewhere as an intellectual stimulus to develop a novel program (Rose, 1993, p. 0). 4 Rose claims that lesson drawing occurs across time and space and is both positive, leading to prescriptions about what ought to be done, and negative, in terms of what not to emulate dames and Lodge 2003). 5 ‘Lesson drawing’ is very similar to conventional rational accounts of policymaking which stress that policy decisions are made about the pursuit of valued goals wrought structured interventions by public bodies or their agents.
The decisions are comprehensive manner; reviewing policy in the light of past experience and any other available information to make adjustments where necessary (see James and Lodge 2003, up 3). The ‘lesson drawing concept offers the potential for distinguishing rational policy-making from forms of apparently non-rational policy-making, where knowledge seems not to be used to pursue goals in a systematic way.
Rational ‘lesson drawing provides a different conceptual approach to accounts which stress the organizational cultural processes involved in learning, which often have more to do with rituals and legitimacy than with processes of optimization; in this sense, the ‘lesson drawing perspective deepens concepts of rational policy-making and enables policy-makers’ behavior to be compared to a benchmark of ‘lesson drawing behavior dames and Lodge 2003). Analysis Basically, the study of Lesson Drawing is a comparison between exporter and importer Jurisdictions and the ways in which their conditions compliment or compensate each other. This study breaks down these conditions into 2 sets of variables, Objectives and Policy Design. In the Objective set of variables the reasons for which the policy was enacted in the exporter Jurisdiction are explored.
Understanding the differences in objectives between those who framed or shaped the institution in the exporter Jurisdiction and those who seek to adopt it in the importer Jurisdiction are important since it is quite possible that some specific features of the policy are aimed at pursuing goals which are undesired or irrelevant by the potential importers. Moreover, the acknowledgement of different goals might in turn lead to advocating more selective forms of borrowing (Page 2000). 7 In the Policy Design set of variables features pertaining to cross-jurisdictional differences are evaluated.
Understanding differences between Jurisdictions in respect of the existence of conditions that make it possible to transfer a policy or what needs to be done in order to make it possible, we need to know about the internal design of the policy in the exporter Jurisdiction and whether these design features exist, can be replicated, imitated or substituted by other features in the importer Jurisdiction (See page 2000). Differences in Institutional authority structure are highly important when borrowing policy. Perhaps the most important of such variables is the distinction between federal and unitary states (Rose 1993). Federal states cannot borrow without substantial modification models based on unitary states where the strong authority of a central government is crucial to the operation of the model. Even within unitary states there are fundamental differences in structures of authority that affect the scope for borrowing, even within unitary states, the making of comprehensive reform is more difficult in some Jurisdictions than others (Archer 1979). 9 Other variables in this set are Organizational characteristics and Resources hat vary from one Jurisdiction to another.
Knowledge about the Organizational structure is important because part of the policy success is determined by the body implementing it and in some cases the exporter Jurisdiction Organizational structure may be hard to duplicate. Also the amount of authority, money and time are key influences on the degree to which, and manner in which, a policy can be transferred from one Jurisdiction to another (See Page 2000). Variables” refers to all features of the environment within which the policy operates, it is a vast and highly diverse category.
A whole range of wider political, societal, economic and cultural conditions contribute to the operation of any policy, and their absence in another Jurisdiction might mean that the functions these conditions fill have to be filled in a different way in the importer Jurisdiction (Page 2000). 10 A lesson-drawing perspective adds value to comparative public policy research вЂ? it answers directly the question of the relevance of such research without compromising in any way its intellectual ambitions of explaining and contributing to theoretical developments in comparative politics and government.
The lesson- drawing perspective is a relatively open field. It requires knowledge of how policies work and knowledge of the wider social, political, economic and cultural conditions that affect how they work in the exporter Jurisdiction and how they are likely to work in the importer Jurisdiction (Page 2000). 11 Synthesis Coal combustion residues (CAR) come from various sources at coal-fired power plants. The majorityвЂ?about 57 percentвЂ?comes from fly ash, which is the chief residue from burning finely crushed coal, and which is collected in bag houses and from electrostatic precipitation.
Flue gas desertification (FIG) material is a residue room the wet and dry scrubbers typically used for reducing SIS emissions. FIG materials comprise about 24 percent of the Scars produced at these plants. Bottom ash is a coarser residue that falls out of the boiler and makes up about 16 percent of Scars. Finally, boiler slay is a molten form of bottom ash that comes from certain types of furnaces. Boiler slay particles have a smooth, granular surface and are uniform in size.
About 3 percent of Scars are in the form of boiler slay (US Congress 2008, up. 10-11). 12 Each year power plants in the United States produce over 125 million tons of Scars Ђ? most notably coal ash вЂ? of which only 40 to 45 is recycled into construction products and filler in cement an highway embankments; the remaining 55 to 60 percent are left in landfills or wet ash ponds like the one that broke at the TV’s Kingston power plan a year ago in Tennessee.
The recycling of Coal Ash has become a huge tension point in the debate about the regulation of Scars. Most opponents to the regulation of CAR argue that the “Hazardous Material” label will greatly increase the cost of handling and transportation of CAR and that it will also stigmatize the benefits obtained with the recycling of Scars. In the past, the EPA has attempted to regulate the disposal of Scars with no success but after the TV’s spill it has vowed to legislate on this matter with a proposal due to be submitted on December 2009.
To situate this debate within the theoretical policy design model of Lesson Drawing, explained earlier in this paper, we have to think of the State level regulation as the exporter Jurisdiction and the Federal level regulation as the importer jurisdiction. As said before, so far regulation of Scars disposal has been left to the States, with the EPA merely providing guidelines on this matter. This model has been extremely favorable for the industry because they have been allowed to submit their own proposals as of what ought to be done with Scars and how to dispose of it.
These proposals usually care more about the industry well being that the debate was revived in late 2008, the industry released a mass lobbying campaign to avoid the change the status quo of things, but this interest group collided with environmental interest groups such as Earthiest and Club Sierra. Drawing from the past and Pea’s failure to regulate, this analysis is focused in what shouldn’t be done in order to avoid another disaster like the TVA.
First of all, I would like to point the reasons why regulation at a Federal level is much needed and the pitfalls at the State level regulations that should be avoided and the benefits that should be emulated. It is true that certain States have managed to do very well in regulating CAR disposal; that is the case of the State of Wisconsin; that had managed to recycle 85 percent of the CAR produced in the State.
But other States, like Louisiana, allow the disposal of CAR directly in groundwater with monitoring wells located distantly from the dumping site. Such disproportion in regulations shouldn’t exist since the trial to be disposed is the same and more importantly the damage caused by the irresponsible dumping of Scars is not a localized issue. Proof of contamination has been found from Scars dumping sites has across the United States; so there is no reason leave this issue to local Governments.
In fact, out of the 15 States that comprise 74% of all US Scars production only 1 requires composite liners for surface impoundments while the rest doesn’t even bother in regulating on this issue. It is proven than leaving the regulation of Scars to the States is an inadequate and unsafe elution to the problem. The Federal Government should be the one entitle to take action in this matter. This inequality in CAR regulations across the States has tied up the hands of the EPA because each field office has to abide by the rules within the State that it is located.
In some instances they can sanction violators but in others they can’t do anything but watch. The Pea’s mission is to oversee the use and conservation of natural resources and to minimize contamination and pollution; unfortunately with the regulation of CAR at a State level this mission is Jeopardized. This inequality results mainly from different efforts of the industry to slow down the regulation process and the perception that each State Government has on the issue.
The main pitfall that many States have in the CAR regulation is the failure to monitor properly the content of the waste as well as the level of contamination that is present at disposal sites. The new regulation at a Federal level should include the allocation of federal resources to design and implement an effective monitoring structure that would allow the EPA to identify as quickly as possible where and how severe the intimidation is.
Another pitfall of the regulations at a State level is the permissiveness that State Governments have allowed to the Industry in taking proposals and suggestions on how the waste should be dispose of. The new Federal regulation shouldn’t allow, in any type of shape or form, the Industry to manipulate the core and ramifications of this new regulation; if businesses in the Industry want to take action and establish internal guidelines for the handling and disposal of CAR, it is a commendable initiative but under no circumstances these should be assumed as regulation.
Some benefits of the failure to regulate in the past is that indeed the labeling of Scars as Hazardous Material could discourage the recycling of it and without the knowledge that we have now about CAR it would have been impossible to demonstrate the consequences that the deregulation has have in the environment. Tater has been compromised; because of the requirements of this Legislature subsequent attempts from the EPA to regulate have failed but after TV’s disaster and other studies carried out by the EPA, in which 44 out of the 406 dumping sites in the United Stated where found to be a source of contamination for the surrounding areas, the regulation of Coal Combustion Residue should move forward with no disturbance. Recommendations Learning from the failure to regulate by the EPA in the past and the consequences that spills and unlined ponds might have in the environment, regulation at the federal level shouldn’t be delayed.
The EPA most pronounce federal legislation, not guidance, because about 23 states have “no more stringent” provisions that won’t allow them to promulgate regulations more strict than the one provided by the Federal Government and some of the other States that do have the power to do failed o require the basic safeguards essential for waste management, including liners, lactate collection systems, groundwater monitoring, corrective action (cleanup), closure and post-closure care (US Congress 2008). 13 The new rule should include: A monitoring program to determine where and how much contamination is taking place.
Financial and human resources from the Federal Government should be allocated to the design of a monitoring program that would serve the EPA with accurate and live information about levels of contamination on dumping sites as well as their compliance with the new regulation. Surface impoundments should be prohibited at new plants, require retrofitting liners for the existing ones and an extra requirement of retrofitting double liners for those sites that has been found to be contaminating its surroundings.
Ultimately this rule will seek to phase out surface impoundments since power plants have the choice of what kind of residue to produce. This requirement will deter power plants from produce wet residues and will move make them move to dry residues, which are more desirable for recycling purposes. As an added benefit, disposal of dry ash on landfills preserves the ash for cycling in the future. EPA should reject voluntary industry proposals as a substitute for regulation.
Again, under no circumstances EPA should consider voluntary measures from the Industry as acceptable substitutes to National Legislation. This is definitely not a viable solution to this problem and the proof is in the proliferation of contaminated sites even though the Industry has proposed “safe” guidelines for the disposal of CAR. Annotated Bibliography Archer, Margaret S. The Social Origin of Educational System. London: Sage, 1979. (accessed May 10, 2010). Extensive study on the development of educational systems, ore specifically in England, Denmark and Russia.
It provides a major historical and structural comparison of state educational systems, and offers the first theoretical framework to account for their national characteristics and the processes of change they have undergone. “Contaminated Coal Waste. ” Natural Resources Defense Council. Http:// Article from the Natural Resources Defense Council website calling for action from the federal government after the December 2008 spill in Tennessee. Eloping, Juliet. “Recent Spill of Coal Ash Prompts Legislation. ” The Washington Post, January 16, 2009. Http://www. Assassinations. Com/WAP-dyne/content/article/ 2009/01115/AR2009011503987. HTML (accessed April 18, 2010). Article from the Washington Post calling for action from the Federal Government in the wake of the TVA disaster. Environment News Service. Post to Environment News Service newsgroup, February 24, 2010. Http://www. En’s-newswire. Com/En’s/Feb./2010-02-24-091 . HTML (accessed April 18, 2010). Article from the Environment News Service publicizing a report from the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthiest about new contaminated sites and their locations.
Results of the report are based on monitoring data and files from local agencies James, Oliver, and Martin Lodge. The Limitations of ‘Policy Transfer’ and ‘Lesson Drawing for Public Policy Research. Http://people. Exeter. AC. UK/James/USSR_3. PDF (accessed May 10, 2010). A piece from the Political Studies Review explaining the reasons why “Policy Transfer” and “Policy Learning” occur as well as a criticism on their limitations. Page, Edward C. Future Governance and the Literature on Policy Transfer and Lesson Drawing. Http://www. Hull. AC. UK/photographer/Departure . PDF (accessed May 10, 2010).