NEW YORK — An EPA rule designed to reduce emissions of coal ash will cost billions of dollars, according to a new study.
The study, released Tuesday, shows that the EPA’s proposal to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste and limit the amount of coal the waste can be burned by capping its size to 10 percent of the country’s total coal ash production.
The rule is expected to cost the federal government $200 billion to $250 billion, depending on how much is spent to regulate the coal ash, according a report by the National Mining Association.
It also finds that the rule would have little impact on the rate of carbon pollution that already has been increasing due to the burning of coal.
This year, the nation’s coal ash stockpiles are at about a half-million tons, a little over half of the total amount that the nation produced in 2011.
To protect against climate change, the EPA said the rules must address both the potential for climate change and the emissions of greenhouse gases from coal ash.
While the EPA proposed capping the size of the coal waste, the agency did not rule out capping how much the waste is burned.
In addition, the rule does not require the coal companies to buy or lease power to use the ash, or to use it for energy.
The EPA did not say whether the waste could be burned to make electricity or used for other purposes.
On the issue of the rule’s impacts on greenhouse gases, the study says that capping would require a significant increase in coal production.