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Water: Cooling Water Intakes (316b)

Cooling Water Intake Structures - Section 316(b) - QUARTERLY STATUS REPORT - APRIL 10, 1998

Cronin, et al. v. Browner
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
No. 93 Civ. 0314 (AGS)

Pursuant to paragraph 3(a) of the Consent Decree in the above-referenced matter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA" or "the Agency") provides this Quarterly Status Report concerning its actions to propose and take final action with respect to regulations under Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act ("CWA").

On January 26, 1998, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that five versions of the draft detailed industry questionnaire are available for public comment. 63 Fed. Reg. 3738. These questionnaires have been described in previous status reports. To date, EPA has received comment on the detailed industry questionnaires from twelve different commenters. EPA met recently with the Electric Power Supply Association, at the Association's request, to discuss its comments on the questionnaires. The Association represents nonutility power producers.

As discussed in past status reports, EPA also is administering a "pretest" of the detailed industry questionnaires. The pretest will end on May 5, 1998. Following the pretest, EPA will evaluate and revise the draft questionnaires in light of the comments it has received. The Agency then will submit the questionnaires to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. Section 3501, et seq.

The information collection request (ICR) for the screener questionnaire, which was described in past status reports, is currently under management review within EPA. The ICR is required under the Paperwork Reduction Act to obtain approval from OMB to administer the screener questionnaire. EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the submission to OMB of the ICR for the screener questionnaire.

EPA has retained a new contractor with specialized expertise in the analysis of environmental benefits resulting from regulatory actions to assist in this rulemaking effort. EPA's assessment of benefits will rely in part on detailed case studies of the environmental impacts of cooling water intake structures. The case studies will focus on the expected benefits (and costs) resulting from the application to those structures of the Best Technology Available for minimizing adverse environmental impact. EPA has begun to develop the protocol for conducting these case studies at individual facilities. EPA also is exploring ways to determine cumulative adverse environmental impacts on a water body from which multiple facilities withdraw cooling water.

EPA project staff have continued to brief Agency management on issues raised by this rulemaking effort and have started to develop preliminary regulatory options. The Agency intends to hold a public meeting in June and another in August of this year to discuss those issues and regulatory options. EPA will publish notice of the time and place for these meetings in the Federal Register.

Finally, EPA has created a Section 316(b) information site on the Office of Wastewater Management's Internet home page. The URL of this site is http://www.epa.gov/owm/316b.htm. The site includes information relevant to the Section 316(b) rulemaking effort, including the draft survey questionnaires, the screener survey, and all past Quarterly Status Reports. EPA intends to post this report and future reports on the Internet as well.

The undersigned, James F. Pendergast, is Acting Director of the Permits Division of EPA's Office of Wastewater Management. The Permits Division has primary responsibility for discharging EPA's duties under the Consent Decree.

-S-

James F. Pendergast


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