For years the EPA and other environmental agencies have known that coal ash is very bad for the environment but until recently there was no real solution to the problem. Fortunately now some steps are finally being taken by various levels of government to force power plants to deal with coal ash in a more environmentally friendly way.
Coal ash is created anytime coal is burnt; so obviously large coal powered power plants are going to create substantial amounts of coal ash. Recently some power plants have begun selling or giving away the coal ash to paving companies because it makes a great addition to concrete and cement mixed; but in general most coal ash is still just deposited somewhere.
The EPA however is working to fix this through some restrictive laws. The EPA is planning on issuing fines and fees based on how much coal ash escaped from a power plant without being reused or recycled so this is essentially the EPA’s way of forcing power plants to participate in recycling programs.
Fortunately recycling coal ash into concrete and asphalt is not only very simple, it is actually a good thing for the roads. Roads paved with coal ash additives have been shown to last longer and crack less which means the government will have less upkeep to perform on these roads. In the coming years it is probable that significantly more roads and bridges will be paved with coal ash thanks to the EPA regulations.