Split Vote In Michigan House To Let Coal Ash Be Used In Roads

May 7, 2014

Divided Michigan lawmakers have voted to allow for the use of coal ash and other industrial byproducts in cement and other products. 

A coal ash spill in Tennessee
A coal ash spill in Tennessee
Credit Flickr.com
The main bill approved 68-42 Tuesday by the Republican-led House would classify coal ash and other materials as "low-hazard" industrial wastes.   

Coal ash is a byproduct of coal combustion that poses environmental threats when put in landfills but also is commonly recycled for use in roads and parking lots.

Republican sponsors of the legislation say coal ash can be safely encapsulated and Michigan is doing nothing differently from other Great Lakes states.

Environmentalists say the measure wrongly shields companies from legal liability if coal ash contaminates drinking water.

The three bills were approved mostly along party lines, with many Democrats in opposition. They now go to the Senate.