Raleigh, NC Mar 9, 2018 The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is inviting additional public feedback on rules drafted to better protect public health and the environment when coal ash wastes are disposed of and recycled. DEQ has extended its informal public comment period on the draft rules from March 22 until April 6. The state agency has also scheduled a fourth public meeting to enable people to provide additional comments on the rules. The public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. March 27 in Ballroom A at the Gastonia Conference Center, 145 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Gastonia. The state agency made the draft rules available for public comments starting Feb. 8 and then held public meetings Feb. 12 in Roxboro, Feb. 20 in Dallas, and Feb. 22 in Wilmington. The agency made the decision to extend the comment period and add another meeting after hearing from citizens who wished to have more opportunity to provide feedback on the rules. “Our top priority is making sure all stakeholders have a chance to be heard especially on issues like this one where there has been widespread interest,” said Sheila Holman, assistant secretary for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “Allowing for greater participation is good government.” The rules address coal combustion residuals, which includes coal ash, a waste product generated when coal is converted into electricity. Waste is increasingly being removed from coal ash impoundments at North Carolina power plants and transported to either landfills engineered to be protective of the environment and human health or to recycling facilities for reuse into construction products such as cement, concrete blocks and wall board. The draft rules incorporate specific requirements from federal rules that outline how coal ash landfills are to be designed, constructed and operated. A section of the rules also addresses dams at the coal ash landfills. A copy of the draft state coal ash landfill rules can be found at: https://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/Coal%20Ash/documents/Coal%20Ash/CCR_Rules/15ANCAC13B.2000_DraftCCRRule.pdf and a copy of the draft dam safety rule can be found at: https://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/Coal%20Ash/documents/Coal%20Ash/CCR_Rules/15ANCAC02K_DraftCCRRuleChanges.pdf. Similar to the previous meetings, DEQ staff on March 27 will provide a presentation about the rules. State officials will then open the floor to anyone wishing to provide feedback on the rules and will record those comments. When signing in, people are asked to notify DEQ staff of their desire to speak. If any time remains after the public comment session concludes, DEQ staff will be available to answer questions. People wishing to comment in writing can email their comments until 5 p.m. April 6 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “CCR Rules” in the subject line.