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Water: Cooling Water Intakes (316b)

Issues for Discussion at the Public Meeting on September 10 and 11, 1998

out of date Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

The September public meeting is designed to assist EPA in developing options relating to the development of proposed regulations under § 316(b) applicable to cooling water intake structures. The purpose of this meeting is to facilitate an exchange of information that will assist EPA. In particular, EPA is seeking input on technology issues, cost issues, and mitigation issues raised by this rulemaking effort. To help you prepare for this public meeting, EPA thought it would be helpful for attendees to see a set of specific issues on which EPA seeks input from stakeholders. This set of issues is listed below.

Issues for Discussion at the Public Meeting on September 10 and 11, 1998 Regarding § 316(b) Rulemaking

Technology Issues

Best Technology Available (BTA) could be a single technology or a suite of technologies that work together to meet the goal of minimizing adverse environmental impacts from cooling water intake structures. EPA has not yet reached a definition, and thus solicits input on the following.

  1. Is there a BTA technology or a suite of BTA technologies that can be applied on a national basis?
  2. Is there a BTA technology that can be applied on a waterbody environment basis (e.g., estuary, lake, larger river, ocean)? If so, what conditions/factors prevent the application of the technology nationwide?
  3. Are there measures other than structural (excluding mitigation) that can effectively minimize adverse environmental impacts from cooling water intake structures (e.g., operational measures)?
  4. What techniques and criteria should be used to measure the efficacy of a technology's performance? Are there performance measures (e.g., a bucket of fish) or rate base measures (e.g., not more than 10% of the standing population of blue crab) that can be used to measure BTA effectiveness?

Cost Issues

EPA solicits input on how, if at all, costs should be taken into account in determining the technology that meets § 316(b) requirements; the types of cost tests that should be conducted; and the organizational or structural level at which any cost tests should be carried out.

  1. Role of costs in determining § 316(b) requirements on a case-by-case basis.
    1. Should § 316(b) requirements be determined by the minimization of adverse environmental impact only, without regard to costs?
    2. Should costs be considered in determining which technology or suite of technologies meets the requirements of § 316(b)?
  2. Potential cost tests in the § 316(b) proposed rulemaking
    1. If costs are to be considered on a case-by-case basis, what should be EPA's approach? What type of "cost test" should be used? Types of cost tests may include, but are not limited to:
      1. cost-benefit tests (costs compared with benefits or a "wholly-disproportionate" test);
      2. cost-effectiveness tests (e.g., limit on the absolute cost per unit reduction in environmental impact)
      3. affordability tests (e.g., costs compared with revenues or profits);
      4. absolute threshold tests (limits on the absolute level of costs imposed on a facility, category of facility, or industry).
    2. What are the important parameters that EPA should take into account in its cost test approach? Are these important for all industries or only selected industries?
  3. Level of § 316(b) cost tests.
    1. What is the appropriate level at which § 316(b) cost tests should be conducted to determine the technology that meets the requirements of § 316(b)? Levels of cost tests may include, but are not limited to:
      1. the facility (i.e., a permit-by-permit approach);
      2. the utility or firm;
      3. the aquatic habitat immediately surrounding a facility (e.g., a watershed or eco-region);
      4. the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) region;
      5. the industry as a whole.

Mitigation Issues

EPA does not view mitigation as BTA in itself, but sees mitigation as a potential means of supplementing technology to satisfy the requirements of § 316(b). Mitigation is typically defined as compensatory activities (e.g., hatcheries for replacement of impinged or entrained organisms) which serve to minimize adverse environmental impacts caused by cooling water intake structures.

  1. What should the role of mitigation play in meeting the requirements of §316(b)?
  2. What types of mitigation if any, should be employed to offset adverse environmental impacts from cooling water intake structures?
  3. What types of demonstration should the applicant have to make to show that any mitigation effort will produce incremental environmental benefits? What information should the applicant be required to provide on the effectiveness of mitigation or the limitations of BTA at their facility?

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