Barletta Backs Water Bill, Contains Coal Ash Protections
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today voted for legislation which addresses the infrastructure needs of the U.S. waterway system and also allows states to develop their own enforcement programs for the recycling and disposal of coal ash. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, S. 612, passed the House by a vote of 360-to-61 and now returns to the Senate for its consideration. Barletta supported the overall package and highlighted his long-standing support of addressing the disposal of coal ash. Coal ash is a byproduct of coal combustion and has consistently been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as non-hazardous material.
“Our region of Pennsylvania was built on the coal industry, and the resulting coal ash has always presented an environmental challenge and an opportunity for job creation,” Barletta said. “By providing certainty in the regulation of coal ash, we are being both stewards of the environment and protectors of economic development. Pennsylvanians have been dealing with this issue for decades, and we know better how to manage it than federal government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”
In 2015, Barletta cosponsored H.R. 1734, the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015, which clarified uncertainties in EPA rules and made certain that coal ash can continue to be used in products like concrete and drywall. Manufacturers also use coal ash for products such as roofing materials, bricks, filler material, and fertilizer. There are an estimated 316,000 jobs nationally that are reliant on the use of coal ash. Clarifying the regulation of coal ash preserves those industries and includes the EPA in the process.
“As a father and grandfather, I want to protect our natural surroundings as much as anyone,” Barletta said. “As the representative of Pennsylvania’s 11th District, I want to see jobs protected as well.”
The WIIN Act is comprehensive legislation to address the needs of America’s harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, and other water resources infrastructure critical to the Nation’s economic growth, health, and competitiveness. The WIIN Act is a measure that includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, which overwhelmingly passed the House in September, in addition to provisions to improve drinking water infrastructure around the country, address control of coal combustion residuals, improve water storage and delivery to help drought-stricken communities, address federal dam maintenance backlogs, and approve longstanding water settlement agreements for the benefit of taxpayers and Native Americans. The WIIN Act is the result of bicameral negotiations, improves critical infrastructure across America, and strengthens the economy.