The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a proposed rulemaking on April 19, 2013, to revise technology-based effluent limitations and guidelines under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for steam electric power generators. Saying that the current guidelines “do not adequately address the toxic pollutants discharged from the electric power industry, nor have they kept pace with process changes that have occurred over the last three decades,” the proposal suggests four options for control of discharges from steam generating plants. Comments must be submitted within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register.

Meanwhile, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of an industry group’s effort to intervene in litigation involving the rules. Defenders of Wildlife v. Perciasepe, No. 12-5122 (D.C. Cir. 4/23/13). In 2010, plaintiffs Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club filed a complaint to force EPA to issue revised effluent guidelines for the steam power generation category. With the filing, the plaintiffs and EPA submitted a consent decree to resolve the litigation. The decree calls for finalization of the new guidelines by January 31, 2014. A trade organization, the Utility Water Act Group, filed a motion to intervene and challenged the settlement on the ground that the schedule did not allow adequate time for notice and comment. The trial court dismissed the motion to intervene, holding that because the settlement agreement “does not require EPA to promulgate a new, stricter rule,” the electricity generators did not have standing to participate in the litigation or its resolution.