NRECA is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to continue supporting beneficial uses of coal combustion residuals—or coal ash—as the agency reconsiders rules for managing such byproducts from electric generating units.

As part of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, NRECA recommended that EPA consider the efficiency and safe practices by industry since the agency’s 2015 CCR rule defined beneficial use criteria and management standards.

EPA’s rule recognized there were no adverse effects on public health or the environment from CCR when managed according to its requirements, the group said in recently filed comments. In addition, the rule established criteria for coal ash to continue to be used for construction products and road materials to the benefit of consumers and the economy.

NRECA also asked EPA to retain its finding that self-cementing CCR used in flowable fill and waste stabilization are “encapsulated” uses not subject to a quantity limitation.

Coal generates about a third of the electricity used by distribution co-ops and their members.

“Being able to sell CCR for beneficial uses reduces overall costs to electric co-ops, reduces purchasers’ reliance on virgin materials, and decreases landfill waste,” said Dorothy Kellogg, NRECA regulatory issues director.

“Having rules in place that manage coal ash and allow for its beneficial use in construction and other industries really is a win-win-win for co-ops, CCR purchasers and the environment.”

Coal ash in its various forms is included in the manufacture of concrete, cement and construction materials, including roofing shingles and wallboard.

Responding to a petition from EarthJustice, EPA has extended the comment period on the beneficial use proposal for an additional 60 days and has not set a date on when it will finalize any changes to the CCR rule.