Judge won’t delay EPA’s coal ash regulation decision in Oklahoma

A judge in Washington, D.C. has refused to delay a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s move to allow Oklahoma to regulate its own coal ash disposal.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates denied a motion by the Environmental Protection Agency to delay the lawsuit filed by Waterkeeper Alliance Inc., Local Environmental Action Demanded Agency and the Sierra Club. The three groups challenged the ability of Oklahoma to regulate the coal ash disposal.

The EPA sought the delay because of a lack of appropriations during the partial government shutdown. In his decision, Judge Bates said he was sympathetic to the impact of the shutdown, “But where…there is a ‘reasonable and articulable connection between the function to be performed and the safety of human life’…government functions may continue.”

Oklahoma’s Department of Environmental Quality had previously regulated the disposal of the byproduct of burned coal at coal-fired power plants such as the one near Bokoshe, Oklahoma. But in 2016, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act put the disposal authority in the hands of the EPA.


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