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Kentucky's rewrite of coal ash storage rules veiled in secrecy

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Kentucky's rewrite of coal ash storage rules veiled in secrecy

A new finalized rule on the storage of coal ash in Kentucky was written behind closed doors between the current and former governors and utility representatives, according to local news reports.

Gov. Matt Bevin and former Gov. Steve Beshear met with industry representatives for more than a year, according to a report by Louisville radio station WFPL, with little to no public input.

Previous reports found that the proposed rule would make it more difficult for the public and state regulatory agencies to manage the coal ash waste produced by Kentucky power plants. A Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet energy expert spoke out against the proposed rule as a private citizen at a public hearing.

According to WFPL, the finalized rule would allow electric utilities to build a landfill or pond for coal ash disposal without going through a rigorous permitting process.

KEEC spokesperson John Mura told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the U.S. EPA regulations on coal ash released by the Obama administration were designed to be self-implementing by the industry without a permitting program, though.

"In addition, under the federal EPA regulations, industry posts documents on their website(s) and review/input by the public/states is to be done via individual initiative," he said.

In terms of the input state officials had with utility representatives, Mura said it was necessary to inquire how the industry intended to comply with the EPA and what effect the rules would have on the industry. According to him, it is common while developing a regulatory program "for multiple and varying iterations of a regulation to be developed by the agency."

"The unprecedented federal EPA's promulgation of an industry self-implementing [coal ash] rule added to the complication and uncertainty," he said.