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Water: Cooling Water Intakes (316b)

Cooling Water Intake Structures - Section §316(b)


Riverkeeper, Inc. v. Whitman
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
No. 93 Civ. 0314 (AGS)
October 10, 2003

Pursuant to paragraphs 4(a) (b) and (c) of the Second Amended Consent Decree in the above-referenced matter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA" or "the Agency") provides this status report concerning its actions to propose and take final action with respect to regulations under § 316(b) of the Clean Water Act ("CWA").

Progress in Development of Rules Since Last Report

Phase I

On June 19, 2003, EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register amending the "Phase I" regulations addressing cooling water intake structures at new facility power plants and factories (68 Fed. Reg. 36749). The final rule took effect on July 21, 2003.

Phase II

During this quarter, after concluding the option selection process, EPA staff and contractors prepared a final rule package for Final Agency Review (FAR). This included drafting the rule language, a preamble to the rule and supporting technical documents, such as the Technical Development Document and Economic and Benefits Analysis.

Also during this quarter, EPA staff and contractors completed coding and entering into an electronic database the comments EPA received on the Notice of Data Availability (NODA) which EPA published on March 19, 2003. All public comments from the April 2002 proposal and NODA are now in a single database which will facilitate EPA's effort to respond to these comments. Other major efforts included: (1) conducting a peer review of key components of EPA's ecological and benefit assessment methodologies, (2) completing final engineering costs, (3) completing engineering analysis in support of the rule, and (4) revising regional benefits estimates.

Phase III

EPA indicated in the last quarterly report that the Agency would collect technical and economic data from facilities in the offshore and coastal oil and gas extraction and seafood processing industries and will continue seeking information on § 316(b) environmental studies. In this quarter, EPA began that information collection process by completing databases identifying potentially affected facilities in the offshore and coastal oil and gas extraction and seafood processing industries. EPA selected a sample of these facilities to receive surveys, which are being distributed at this writing. In addition during this quarter, EPA made substantial progress in identifying technology options for controlling impingement and entrainment at such facilities' cooling water intakes and in developing related engineering cost analyses.

EPA also identified facilities that have performed environmental studies of impingement and entrainment at inland freshwater locations. By telephone, EPA requested that 56 facilities send their study to the Agency. EPA received eleven such studies and anticipates receiving more in the near future. EPA will use these newly acquired studies to develop estimates of environmental benefits of reducing impingement and entrainment at the many Phase III facilities withdrawing water from inland freshwater sources. EPA also continues to make progress on developing methodologies for evaluating the ecological impacts and economic benefits of potential Phase III regulatory options on offshore facilities and vessels.

Status of Attainment of Consent Decree Deadlines and Milestones

EPA is currently on schedule to meet the approaching milestones and deadlines set forth in the Second Amended Consent Decree to take final action on the Phase II Regulations by February 16, 2004; to hold an option selection meeting for the Phase III proposed regulations by May 14, 2004; and to propose Phase III Regulations by November 1, 2004. In the third quarter of this calendar year, EPA has not encountered any delays or obstacles in performing its obligations under the consent decree. EPA does not expect to encounter any such delays or obstacles in the fourth quarter of this year.

There were no reportable milestones in the third quarter.

Staffing and Funding of the Rulemaking Effort

Pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(4) of the Second Amended Consent Decree, this report provides an estimate of any changes to staffing and funding estimates provided in the quarterly reports for the fourth quarter of 2002 and the first quarter of 2003 under paragraph 4(b). There have been no changes in the estimates provided in those reports.

Pursuant to paragraph 4 (c)(iv) of the Second Amended Consent Decree, this report provides an estimate of the total number of FY 2003 contract dollars that EPA obligated to contracts through September 2003 for the development of the § 316(b) regulations. EPA estimates that the total number of FY 2003 contract dollars EPA obligated through September 2003 to contracts to develop these regulations is $2,470,296.

During the past quarter, EPA made some changes in key staff assigned to the development of § 316(b) rules. Thomas Wall, Director of the Cooling Water Intake Task Force in the Engineering and Analysis Division (EAD) of OST, left the Task Force to become the Branch Chief of the Chemical Engineering Branch in EAD. Martha Segall is the Acting Task Force Director until a permanent successor is named. Paul Shriner joined the § 316(b) rulemaking effort and will spend half his time on Phase III engineering.

The undersigned, Geoffrey H. Grubbs, is Director of the Office of Science and Technology of EPA's Office of Water. The Office of Science and Technology has primary responsibility for discharging EPA's duties under the Second Amended Consent Decree.

Geoffrey H. Grubbs, Director
Office of Science and Technology
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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