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Power Plant Reprieve

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A final rule and the reconsideration of certain provisions are giving power plants a reprieve from regulation. The EPA recently announced a final rule delaying compliance dates for certain power plant effluent limitations by two years and the reconsideration of certain coal ash rule provisions pertaining to the disposal of coal ash.

EPA Postpones Steam Electric Power Plant Effluent Guidelines Rule

The EPA has finalized a rule delaying certain compliance deadlines that would limit runoff from two waste streams at power plants – bottom ash transport water and flue gas desulfurization water – by two years. The original rule, effluent limitations guidelines and standards for steam electric power plants (ELG Rule), was issued in November 2015 and set to become effective in November of 2018. Now, power plants have until November of 2020 to comply with these portions of the rule.

“Today's final rule resets the clock for certain portions of the agency's effluent guidelines for power plants, providing relief from the existing regulatory deadlines while the agency revisits some of the rule's requirements," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Again, the final rule postpones, for a period of two years, the compliance dates for the best available technology economically achievable (“BAT”) effluent limitations and pretreatment standards (“PSES”) for two wastestreams at existing sources:

  • bottom ash transport water
  • flue gas desulfurization (“FGD”) wastewater,

Currently, the EPA does not plan to revise the BAT effluent limitations and PSES in the 2015 rule for fly ash transport water, flue gas mercury control wastewater, gasification wastewater, or any other requirements in the 2015 Rule.

EPA Reconsidering Certain Coal Ash Disposal Provisions

The EPA has granted two petitions to reconsider provisions of the final rule regulating coal combustion residuals (CCR) as nonhazardous waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The rule went into effect on October 19,2015 and regulates how CCR generated power plants is managed and disposed of in lined ponds and landfills. The rule also defines what constitutes beneficial use of CCR, excluding it from the rule’s requirements.

In the press release the EPA expressed that they are “not committing to changing any part of the rule or agreeing with the merits of the petition,” stating,“the Agency is simply granting petitions to reconsider specific provisions.”

For more information on this reconsideration, see this article by EnvironmentalLeader.

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