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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
§ 316(b) of the Clean Water Act ("CWA").
EPA reported in the last Quarterly Status Report that on September 21, 1998, the Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") had disapproved the information collection request ("ICR") for the cooling water intake screener questionnaire that EPA submitted to OMB on May 8, 1998. EPA also reported that it was preparing the ICR for resubmission to OMB, revised so as to address the points OMB made in its Disapproval Statement. On November 16, 1998, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register (63 Fed. Reg. 63,727), announcing that it had resubmitted the ICR and the screener questionnaire to the OMB for review under the Paperwork Reduction Act ("PRA"), 44 U.S.C. § 3501, et seq. OMB approved the resubmitted screener questionnaire on December 24, 1998. EPA is now printing the screener questionnaire and intends to mail it shortly.
Now that OMB has approved the ICR for the screener questionnaire, EPA is again focusing its efforts on completing the ICR for the detailed industry questionnaire, described in previous status reports, for submission to OMB. EPA expects to submit the ICR for the detailed questionnaire to OMB for review and approval during the first quarter of calendar year 1999. EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the submission to OMB of the ICR for the detailed industry questionnaire.
EPA also reported in the last Quarterly Status Report that the Agency does not believe it can meet the deadlines contained in the Consent Decree for proposing and taking final action with respect to a regulation under § 316(b). EPA project staff have prepared a draft of a revised work plan for completing developing a scientifically and legally defensible rule. On January 8, 1998, project staff met with senior managers to discuss the proposed work plan.
Following the public meeting that EPA held on September 10 and 11, 1998 (described in the last status report), EPA received twelve comment letters from industry, private citizens, and three States addressing technology, cost, and mitigation issues discussed at the meeting. Agency project staff have held several day long meetings to evaluate and consider comments made
during both the June and September public meetings and the comment letters that EPA has
received. Project staff also have invested time and effort in developing and refining preliminary regulatory options, including the revision of the draft regulatory framework that EPA presented at the June public meeting, for eventual consideration by senior management.
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.