Water: Steam Electric
Proposed Effluent Guidelines for the Steam Electric Power Generating Category
EPA is proposing to amend the effluent limitations guidelines and standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating category (40 CFR Part 423). A proposed rule was published on June 7, 2013. The public comment period closed on September 20, 2013.
Steam electric power plants contribute over half of all toxic pollutants discharged to surface waters by all industrial categories currently regulated in the United States under the Clean Water Act. For example, steam electric plants annually discharge:
- 64,400 lb. of lead
- 2,820 lb. of mercury
- 79,200 lb. of arsenic
- 225,000 lb. of selenium
- 1,970,000 lb. of aluminum
- 4,990,000 lb. of zinc
Discharges of these toxic pollutants are linked to cancer, neurological damage, and ecological damage. Many of these toxic pollutants, once in the environment, remain there for years. These pollutant discharges contribute to:
- over 160 water bodies not meeting state quality standards
- 185 waters for which there are fish consumption advisories; and
- degradation of 399 water bodies across the country that are drinking water supplies.
The proposed rule would strengthen the existing controls on discharges from these plants. The proposal sets the first federal limits on the levels of toxic metals in wastewater that can be discharged from power plants, based on technology improvements in the industry over the last three decades.
The proposal identified four preferred regulatory options that differ in the number of waste streams covered, size of the units controlled, and stringency of controls. Annually, EPA projects different levels of costs and pollutant reductions associated with these preferred options:
- Compliance costs range from $185 million and $954 million
- Pollutant reductions range from 0.47 billion to 2.62 billion pounds.
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
- News Release (April 19, 2013)
- Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 108K)
- Federal Register Notice | Print Version (PDF) (113 pp, 862K) (June 7, 2013)
- Technical Development Document (PDF) (442 pp, 4.3MB) (EPA-821-R-13-002)
- Environmental Assessment (PDF) (282 pp, 4.8MB) (EPA-821-R-13-003)
- Benefits and Cost Analysis (PDF) (176 pp, 2.7MB) (EPA-821-R-13-004)
- Regulatory Impact Analysis (PDF) (161 pp, 2.7MB) (EPA-821-R-13-005)
EPA conducted a webcast on August 20, 2013, which provided an overview of the proposed rule, and answers to questions submitted by participants.
- PowerPoint presentation for the Webcast (August 20, 2013) (PDF) (11 pp, 3.7MB)
- Transcript of the Webcast (August 20, 2013) (PDF) (27 pp, 168K)
- Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category: Final Detailed Study Report (2009) (PDF) (233 pp, 2.6MB) (EPA 821-R-09-008).
Summaries of EPA consultations with Indian Tribes and consultations pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and Executive Order 13132 on federalism.
Overview of EPA's 2010 questionnaire distributed to steam electric power plants.
- Laboratory Analysis of Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) Wastewater
EPA developed a standard operating procedure to conduct analyses of FGD wastewater.
Consent Decree and Relevant Court Filings
Under a consent decree entered into in Defenders of Wildlife v. EPA, No. 10-cv-01915 (D.D.C.), and since revised, EPA and plaintiffs have agreed to amend the consent decree to extend the schedule for EPA to complete its final rulemaking pertaining to revisions of the Steam Electric Effluent Guidelines. Under this agreement, EPA agrees to sign a decision taking final action on the rulemaking by September 30, 2015. The additional time will allow EPA to respond to the large volume of public comments received on the rule.
- Court Approved Stipulation: April 9, 2014 (PDF) (5 pp, 528K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: March 2014 (PDF) (3 pp, 11K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: December 2013 (PDF) (3 pp, 10K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: September 2013 (PDF) (3 pp, 11K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: June 2013 (PDF) (3 pp, 11K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: April 2013 (PDF) (3 pp, 24K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: March 2013 (PDF) (3 pp, 23K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: February 2013 (PDF) (3 pp, 28K)
- EPA Status Report to Court: January 2013 (PDF) (3 pp, 23K)
- Consent Decree: March 18, 2012) (PDF) (9 pp, 261K)
- Consent Decree Extension #1: April 2, 2012 (PDF) (4 pp, 13K)
- Consent Decree Extension #2: September 20, 2012 (PDF) (4 pp, 26K)
- Consent Decree Extension #3: December 10, 2012 (PDF) (5 pp, 32K)
- Consent Decree Extension #4: April 7, 2014 (PDF) (2 pp, 252K)
For further information
For additional technical information in the proposed Steam Electric Power Generating effluent guidelines, please contact Jezebele Alicea-Virella (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 202-566-1755. For economic information please contact James Covington (email@example.com) or 202-566-1034.