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Environmental Groups Expect Coal Ash Rules After Ruling

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Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could resume rulemaking for the disposal of toxic coal ash after a federal judge ruled against the agency in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups.

In a decision dated Sept. 30, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington said that “absent extraordinary circumstances, the court will grant summary judgment” to a portion of a complaint by Appalachian Voices of Boone, North Carolina, and other environmental groups alleging the EPA failed in its legal duty to issue rules for coal ash.

The agency issued a proposal for regulating coal ash in 2010 and never made it final, triggering the suit, which was filed in April 2012.

“This decision marks the first step towards federally enforceable safeguards from coal ash,” the environmental groups said today in an e-mailed statement. “No one should have to live in fear of the coal ash dump in their backyard, and we hope the EPA will finally adopt regulations that protect all nearby communities.”

The judge said he would explain his reasoning in a memo to be released within 30 days.

The case is Appalachian Voices v. McCarthy, 12-cv-00523, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Zajac in Washington at azajac@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net