EPA finalizes NPDES rules, appoints deputy administrator

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a rules change in the Federal Register today that modifies regulation of cooling towers water intake. Related new language adopted July 9 on this subject prompted six Northeast states to file suit last week...

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 4, 2004 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a rules change in the Federal Register today that modifies the "Final Regulations to Establish Requirements for Cooling Water Intake Structures at Phase II Existing Facilities."

This rule was in the news last week because changes adopted July 9 related to how power plants use public water supplies prompted six Northeast states, led by Rhode Island, to sue the federal government.

The states claimed the new wording would make it easier for plants to avoid the cost of new technologies that would protect the environment. Under the Clean Water Act, power plants are required to get permits that limit how much water they take in from public sources, often for cooling towers, as well as the amount they discharge. The law also requires plants to use technology minimizing environmental harm.

The changes relaxed requirements to install closed-loop water recycling systems onto existing power plants to reuse water from the power-generating process and reduce water intake. Critics say the plants take in too much water and warm water they discharge harms aquatic life that may be unable to adjust to sharp temperature changes.

Details of the latest rules change can be found at:
* www.epa.gov/EPA-WATER/2004/August/Day-04/w4130.htm, and
* www.epa.gov/EPA-WATER/2004/August/Day-04/index.html.

In other news, Stephen L. Johnson also was sworn in as deputy administrator of the agency by Administrator Michael Leavitt on Aug. 2. Johnson was formally appointed to the post by President George W. Bush on July 30. He has served in the position of acting deputy administrator for the past year.

Before that, Johnson was the assistant administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. He has over 20 years of service at the EPA, principally in the area of pesticide programs. Before joining EPA, Johnson held positions as operations director at Hazelton Laboratories Corporation and Litton Bionetics Inc. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Taylor University in Indiana and a master's degree in pathology from George Washington University, in Washington, DC.

###

More in Environmental