A companion bill to the U.S. House’s recently passed Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2273) was last week introduced in the Senate by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

H.R. 2273 passed 267-144 in the House on Oct. 14 with 37 Democrats approving the measure. That bill essentially requires states—as opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—to create plans to manage coal ash and empowers states to enforce them. It also prohibits the EPA from classifying coal ash residuals as hazardous waste.

The Senate bill, The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011, preserves coal ash recycling and establishes federal standards for coal ash disposal. Under the legislation, states could either set up their own permitting program for the management and disposal of coal ash based on existing EPA regulations to protect human health and the environment, or the EPA will implement the program. States will know where they stand under this bill, since the benchmarks for what constitutes a successful state program will be set in statute, Sen. Hoeven said in a statement on Tuesday.

The legislation will set up a state permitting program for coal ash under a section of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that would ensure sites have adequate groundwater monitoring, protective lining, and properly engineered structures needed to protect communities.

Hoeven introduced the bill Oct. 20 with bipartisan support. Cosponsors include: Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

Sources: POWERnews, Sen. John Hoeven