A bill that would allow Indiana to oversee federal coal ash requirements in the state through a permitting program is now headed to the governor’s desk for final approval.
If signed into law, Senate Bill 271 would begin the process of establishing a state coal ash permitting program, officially known as coal combustion residuals, under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act passed in 2016.
The bill would allow the state to oversee the closure of many of the state’s coal ash ponds instead of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a change supported by coal-ash producing industries in the state.
Environmental advocacy groups oppose the bill, saying the state permitting program could be used to allow "problematic disposal practices."
Under the bill’s final language, the state would inform the EPA of its intent to develop a state permit program by May 15.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which runs state permitting for other federal environmental laws, would then have 16 months to develop the program.
The EPA has final say on whether the state program will be approved.
Three states have applied for state coal ash permitting programs. The EPA approved programs in Georgia and Oklahoma and partially approved Texas’ permit application.