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EPA/WATER RIN: 2040-AF14 Publication ID: Fall 2013 
Title: Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category 
Abstract: EPA establishes national technology-based regulations, called effluent limitations guidelines and standards, to reduce discharges of pollutants from industries to waters of the U.S. These requirements are incorporated into National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permits issued by EPA and States and through the national pretreatment program. The steam electric effluent limitations guidelines and standards apply to steam electric power plants using nuclear or fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. There are about 1,200 nuclear- and fossil-fueled steam electric power plants nationwide; approximately 500 of these power plants are coal-fired. In a study completed in 2009, EPA found that the current regulations, which were last updated in 1982, do not adequately address the pollutants being discharged and have not kept pace with changes that have occurred in the electric power industry over the last three decades. The rulemaking may address discharges associated with coal ash waste and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) air pollution controls, as well as other power plant waste streams. Power plant discharges can have major impacts on water quality, including reduced organism abundance and species diversity, contamination of drinking water sources, and other effects. Pollutants of concern include metals (e.g., mercury, arsenic and selenium), nutrients, and total dissolved solids. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on June 17, 2013 ("Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category," 78 Federal Register 110 (7 June 2013), pp. 34432 - pp. 34543). 
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
CFR Citation: 40 CFR 423 (revision) 
Legal Authority: 33 USC 1311; 33 USC 1314; 33 USC 1316; 33 USC 1317; 33 USC 1318; 33 USC 1342; 33 USC 1361 
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Judicial  5/22/2014 - Consent Decree deadline for Final Action - Defenders of Wildlife v. Jackson, 10-1915, D. D.C.  05/22/2014 
NPRM  Judicial  Consent Decree  04/19/2013 

Statement of Need: 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 30,000,000 lb. of nitrogen 682,000 lb. of phosphorus 14,500,000 lb. of manganese 158,000 lb. of vanadium; and 27 other pollutants. 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 revised steam electric rule would strengthen the existing controls on discharges from these plants. It would set 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.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Section 301(b)(2) of the Clean Water Act requires EPA to promulgate effluent limitations for categories of point sources, using technology-based standards that govern the sources' discharge of certain pollutants. 33 USC Section 1311(b). Section 304(b) of the Act directs EPA to develop effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) that identify certain technologies and control measures available to achieve effluent reductions for each point source category, specifying factors to be taken into account in identifying those technologies and control measures. 33 U.S.C. Section 1314(b). Since the 1970s, EPA has formulated effluent limitations and ELGs in tandem through a single administrative process. Am. Frozen Food Inst. v. Train, 539 F.2d 107 (D.C. Cir. 1976). The CWA also requires EPA to perform an annual review of existing ELGs and to revise them, if appropriate. 33 U.S.C. Section 1314(b); see also 33 U.S.C. Section 1314(m)(1)(A). EPA originally established effluent limitations and guidelines for the steam electric generating industry in 1974 and last updated them in 1982. 47 Fed. Reg. 52,290 (Nov. 19, 1982). As described above, EPA determined the existing regulations do not adequately address the pollutants being discharged and that revisions are appropriate.

Alternatives: Due to the widespread discharge of pollutants in steam electric discharges, EPA has not identified alternatives to regulation.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: EPA recently proposed revisions to the steam electric rule and identified a range of preferred regulatory options. EPA's estimates of the annual social costs of the steam electric rule range from $185 million to $954 million with associated annual pollutant discharge reductions of 470 million to 2.62 billion pounds and water use reductions of 50 billion to 103 billion gallons. EPA's estimate of the monetized benefits, which only includes a portion of the benefits, range from $139 million to $483 million.

Risks: Effluent limitations guidelines and standards are technology based discharge requirements. As such, EPA has not assessed risk associated with this action. However, as detailed in the Statement of Need, toxic pollutant discharges from steam electric plants are linked to cancer, neurological damage, and ecological damage.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  06/07/2013  78 FR 34431 
NPRM Comment Period Extended  07/12/2013  78 FR 41907 
Final Rule  05/00/2014   
Additional Information: Docket #:EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0819
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: Undetermined 
Federalism: Yes 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/steam_index.cfm  
Sectors Affected: 22111 Electric Power Generation; 221112 Fossil Fuel Electric Power Generation; 221113 Nuclear Electric Power Generation 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Ronald Jordan
Environmental Protection Agency
Water
Mail Code 4303T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.,
Washington, DC 20460
Phone:202 566-1003
Fax:202 566-1053
Email: jordan.ronald@epamail.epa.gov

Jezebele Alicea
Environmental Protection Agency
Water
Mail Code 4303T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.,
Washington, DC 20460
Phone:202 566-1755
Fax:202 566-1053
Email: alicea.jezebele@epamail.epa.gov

 
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