U.S. State of Georgia Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Permit Program
On December 16, 2019, the EPA Administrator signed a Federal Register notice approving of the second state permit program for the management of coal combustion residuals (CCR) in the state of Georgia. On the effective date of this notice, Georgia's partial permit program will operate in lieu of the Federal CCR program, except for four provisions.
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EPA has approved Georgia's partial CCR state permit program, pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) section 4005(d)(1)(B). Georgia's partial program allows the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) to enforce rules promulgated under its solid waste statute related to CCR activities in non-Indian country, as well as to issue permits and to enforce permit violations.
EPA conducted an analysis of GA EPD's permit program application, including Georgia Compilation of Rules and Regulations in 391-3-4-.10and its adoption of title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 257, subpart D. Based on this analysis, EPA determined that GA EPD's submitted partial CCR permit program meets the standard for approval in section RCRA section 4005(d)(1)(A) and (B) and that Georgia's program contains all the elements of the federal rule, including requirements for location restrictions, design and operating criteria, groundwater monitoring and corrective action, closure requirements and post-closure care, recordkeeping, notification and internet posting requirements. It also contains state-specific language, references and state-specific requirements that differ from the federal rule, which EPA has determined to be at least as protective as the Federal criteria.
Georgia did not apply for four provisions of the federal CCR regulations for their permit program, which is why Georgia has a partial CCR permit program. The four provisions that Georgia did not seek approval for are:
- Requirements relevant to Threatened and Endangered Species in 40 CFR sections 257.3-2;
- Requirements for inactive impoundments at inactive facilities, for which federal criteria does not yet exist following the vacatur of 40 CFR section 257.50(e) in accordance with USWAG et al. v. EPA No. 15-1219 (D.C. Circuit);
- 40 CFR section 257.101(a), which allows unlined impoundments to continue receiving coal ash unless they leak, and which has since been vacated in accordance with USWAG et al. v. EPA No. 15-1219 (D.C. Circuit); and
- 40 CFR section 257.71(a)(1)(i), which classifies “clay-lined” impoundments as lined, which has since been vacated in accordance with USWAG et al. v. EPA No. 15-1219 (D.C. Circuit).
Approval of GA EPD's partial CCR permit program allows the GA EPD regulations to apply to existing CCR units, as well as any future CCR units not located in Indian Country, in lieu of the Federal requirements. EPA is not aware of any existing CCR units in Indian country within Georgia, but EPA will maintain sole authority to regulate and permit CCR units in Indian country, meaning formal and informal reservations, dependent Indian communities, and Indian allotments, whether restricted or held in trust by the United States.
In preparation to submit their application, Georgia promulgated regulations for CCR disposal units at Georgia Compilation of Rules and Regulations in 391-3-4-.10 , which adopts by reference nearly all of the technical criteria contained in federal CCR regulations. In addition to the technical criteria, CCR units must comply with the permitting requirements, the procedural permitting requirements and the reporting requirements found in various sections of the Solid Waste Management section of Georgia's Rule and Regulations (Ga. Comp. R. and Regs. 391-3-4).
On April 13, 2018, GA EPD submitted its initial CCR permit program application to EPA Region 4. After receiving comments from EPA, Georgia provided revisions to its 2018 application on March 6, 2019 and May 23, 2019. In its February 27, 2019, revised cover letter, Georgia requested approval of its partial CCR state permit program. Georgia’s 2018 application, as revised by its March 6, 2019 and May 23, 2019 submittals, constitutes its final CCR state permit program application.
On June 19, 2019, EPA took the first step in the process of making a determination of whether to approve Georgia's CCR permit program by notifying Georgia that their application was complete and that the formal process of soliciting public comment and making a final determination on whether to approve Georgia's CCR permit program will begin. Below is the letter EPA sent to the Georgia EPD stating that their application was found to be complete.
EPA preliminarily determined that Georgia’s CCR state permit program met the standard for approval under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act on June 28, 2019. EPA proposed to approve the application submitted by Georgia EPD to allow their permit program to operate in lieu of the federal CCR program. However, there are specific provisions of the federal CCR program that the state is not seeking approval for, which are outlined in the Federal Register notice.
EPA held a public hearing about this proposed approval on August 6, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia, from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm (Eastern time). Access a transcript of the public hearing in the docket for this action.