Two Arizona coal-fired power plants that have ash ponds are part of a national debate. An article on EnergyBiz.com by Ken Silverstein offers an update. "Coal-burning power plants consume 1 billion tons of coal each year" producing 140 million tons of coal in the form of fly ash, bottom ash, scrubber sludge and boiler slag, according to Earth Justice. [Right, ash ponds at Cholla power plant, near Joseph City]
Environmental groups want the EPA to reclassify it from solid waste to toxic waste. But about 40% of the ash is recycled into things such as cement and dry wall. The Edison Electric Institute argues that designating the ash as toxic will make it less likely to be recycled, resulting in more of it piling up in pools and landfills.
Environmental groups are preparing to sue EPA to force them to classify the ash as toxic, acknowledging they want to make this an election year issue. The White House says that no matter how ash is regulated they want it to continue to be recycled.