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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").
On August 2, 1999, EPA filed a motion to modify the Consent Decree so as to bifurcate the rulemaking proceeding into two phases: Phase I, addressing new facilities that plan to employ cooling water intake structures, and Phase II, addressing existing facilities that employ cooling water intake structures. Under this revised approach, the Administrator would sign the Phase I proposal, addressing new facilities, on October 5, 2000, and take final action with respect to the Phase I proposal on May 16, 2002. Also on May 16, 2002, EPA would propose the Phase II rule addressing existing facilities. EPA would take final action with respect to that rule on April 1, 2004. Along with the motion to modify the Consent Decree, EPA filed a Declaration of J. Charles Fox, Assistant Administrator for Water, that described EPA's efforts to date in the
§ 316(b) rulemaking proceeding and explained the basis for EPA's motion to modify the Consent Decree. Pursuant to a stipulation between the parties, the deadline for plaintiffs' opposition to EPA's motion has been extended to November 5, 1999, and the deadline for EPA to serve a reply in further support of its motion has been extended to December 3, 1999. EPA and plaintiffs are continuing to discuss the issues raised by EPA's motion.
On September 27, 1999, fifty-three individual electric utility companies, the Edison Electric Institute, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the American Public Power Association (all members of the Utility Water Act Group) filed a motion for leave to intervene in the lawsuit, and a response to EPA's motion to modify the Consent Decree. Plaintiffs have proposed that they be allowed until November 5, 1999, to respond to industry's filing. EPA has informed the court that it takes no position on the motion for leave to intervene.
EPA staff are now directing their efforts towards developing a rule consistent with the deadlines proposed in the Agency's motion to modify the Consent Decree. On August 27, 1999, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register (64 Fed. Reg. 46,908) announcing that it had submitted the information collection request (ICR) for the detailed questionnaire to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The questionnaire and the ICR are described in previous Quarterly Status Reports and in Mr. Fox's Declaration. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. § 3501, et seq., OMB is to review and approve or disapprove the ICR within 60 days of the date of its receipt, unless the time period for review is extended by OMB. EPA received comments on the detailed questionnaire from six entities. OMB currently is reviewing the questionnaire and the ICR.
The undersigned, Charles H. Sutfin, is 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.
Charles H. Sutfin