Sources: Green Century Capital Management, Boston; CP staff
By Don Marsh
EnvironmentalistsÌ latest ploy enjoining the Environmental Protection Agency to list coal combustion residuals (CCR) under Resource Conservation & Recovery Act Subtitle C is a letter that suggests federal CCR disposal regulation will prevent costly public health impacts and assist shareholders in companies with related liabilities in understanding the financial risks associated with coal ash. It coincides with EPA public hearings on a rule proposing the Subtitle C listing, strongly opposed by construction-grade fly ash marketers and users; or, Subtitle D listing, which would subject tightened CCR disposal regulations to state oversight without fostering a hazardous waste stigma for ASTM C618 product and other widely recycled CCR.
Twenty two signatories represent investors managing $240 billion-plus in assets. The catastrophic Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill in December 2008, they contend, demonstrated that current regulations are not enough to mitigate environmental and financial risk for utilities and their shareholders ÷ Beyond the TVA spill, the disastrous oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates that unforeseen accidents can create unpredictably large environmental and financial risk for energy companies. We believe it is critical that utilities be required to assure shareholders and the public that they are financially prepared to manage the costs associated with a catastrophic coal ash spill or other ash-related events that could require significant clean up costs.
The letter was initiated by activists Green Century Capital and As You Sow. Based in San Francisco, the latter group earlier this year pressed an annual meeting shareholder resolutionÛrequesting risk mitigation plans for coal ash storageÛfor MDU Resources subsidiary Montana-Dakota Utilities. That action coincided with pursuit of other shareholder resolutions calling on MDU (also parent of Knife River Corp.), Eagle Materials and Vulcan Materials to disclose strategies for dealing with the effects of climate change and related regulations, including federal government limits on greenhouse gas emissions.