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July 12, 1999

Cronin, et al. v. Browner
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
No. 93 Civ. 0314 (AGS)

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").

As reported previously, EPA formally notified plaintiffs this spring, pursuant to Paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Consent Decree, that the Administrator intends to file a motion seeking modification of the deadlines for proposing and taking final action with respect to the 316(b) regulations. Under the current stipulation between the parties, which the court entered on June 28, 1999, the deadline for proposal of the 316(b) regulations has been extended to October 4, 1999, and the deadline for EPA to file a motion seeking modification of the Consent Decree has been extended to August 2, 1999.

Over the past several months, EPA project staff have continued to meet with senior Agency managers to consider options for a revised work plan for the 316(b) rule. After several attempts to schedule an earlier meeting, EPA met with plaintiffs on May 18, 1999, to begin formal discussions concerning modification of the Consent Decree deadlines. On June 29, 1999, the Agency held a follow-up conference call with plaintiffs concerning the schedule for the 316(b) rulemaking effort. EPA has made it clear to plaintiffs that it will not be able to propose the regulations by the October 4 date contained in the stipulation; however, Agency personnel remain available to meet with plaintiffs to discuss a realistic schedule for developing and proposing a scientifically and legally defensible rule.

In addition to the schedule and the work plan efforts, EPA continues to dedicate time and resources to a number of other associated rulemaking activities. For example, EPA project staff have evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of several electricity market models, which are critical to evaluating the economic impact of the proposed rule. Project staff also have devoted a significant amount of time and effort to evaluating models and identifying data sources for watershed case studies designed to evaluate cumulative impacts from cooling water intake structures. In addition, EPA has continued to direct effort to developing engineering cost models to evaluate the cost of various cooling water intake structure technologies that are currently employed.

With respect to the screener questionnaire, the Agency has entered the data from the returned screeners into an automated database and has begun to analyze those data. EPA also is using the screener data to prepare the "sample frame," which has been described in previous status reports. The "sample frame" represents a statistically valid sampling of facilities utilizing cooling water intake structures, which will receive the detailed questionnaire later this year. EPA also continues to work on the Information Collection Request (ICR) for the detailed industry questionnaire, described in previous status reports, for submission to OMB.

The undersigned, Charles H. Sutfin, is Director of the Permits Division of EPA's Office of Wastewater Management. In April 1999, I replaced James F. Pendergast, who had been the acting Director of the Permits Division. The Permits Division has primary responsibility for discharging EPA's duties under the Consent Decree.


                                                                       Charles H. Sutfin