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Coal ash ruling provides opportunity for environmentalists to sue EPA

The federal district court ruling finding EPA has a duty to review its Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) coal ash rules every three years could open the door for groups to sue the agency to force reviews of years-old solid and hazardous waste rules, though EPA would not necessarily be forced to update the regulations.

EPA officials and others are still reviewing the Oct. 29 ruling and say it is too soon to know which rules environmentalists and others might seek to challenge, but one environmentalist suggests some options could include a challenge to an EPA toxicity test for wastes or unspecified regulatory exemptions under RCRA.

Barnes Johnson, EPA's director of the Office of Resource Conservation & Recovery, acknowledged the ruling's scope in a brief Oct. 29 interview with Inside EPA. "As I read it [the ruling], it pretty broadly pertained to the whole of RCRA" he said, but cautioned that EPA is continuing to evaluate the decision to determine its scope.

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