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 Regulatory Structure - Marine Impacts


Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act went into effect to restore our nation’s water resources through regulation and conservation.

Section 316 was added to allow EPA to regulate intake and discharge of water to the marine environment through National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

Permitting authority has not been granted to Massachusetts; however the state (DEP and CZM) and federal government (EPA) work in parallel.

CWA, Section 316(a) is the regulatory framework for thermal effluent: outflow/discharge. EPA is supposed to impose an effluent limit that will “assure the protection and propagation of a balanced, indigenous population of shellfish, fish, and wildlife in and on that body of water.” The licensee can demonstrate that the discharge limit is more stringent than necessary.

CWA, Section (b) mandates that “a point source shall require that the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impacts.”

This section applies only to intake of water, not discharge with its major goal to minimize the impingement and entrainment of fish and other organisms drawn into a facility’s cooling water intake.

National Performance Standards: EPA did not spell out any national performance standards in the Act. Riverkeeper challenged in court, visit their website for details.   http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/hudson_fisheries


U.S. Supreme Court Decides Riverkeeper Case

On December 2, 2008, the United States Supreme Court heard Riverkeeper’s case that Hudson River power plants must use the best technology available to prevent their cooling intakes from killing massive numbers of fish, larvae and eggs. The case, Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, Inc., examined whether Congress, in enacting Clean Water Act section 316(b) in 1972, forbade EPA from comparing costs to benefits when determining the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impacts of cooling water intake structures.

On April 1, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision of the lower court, ruling that cost-benefit analysis is not categorically forbidden by the Clean Water Act provision governing cooling water intake structures, but also that EPA has the authority to decide not to engage in such analysis. The Court, therefore, left it to the Obama-Jackson Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to decide whether and how to compare costs to benefits when it issues a new regulation for existing power plants.  


Pilgrim Water Discharge Permit # MA 0003557

The Discharge Permit is issued by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reviewed for input by Department Environmental Protection (DEP) and signed off by Coastal Zone Management (CZM). A public hearing is held. The public may comment or choose to intervene. To participate, contacts listed below. The permit is overdue for re-issue; it is now under review. 


EPA: Sharon Zaya is working on the permit (Tel. 617-918-1995). John Nagel is their biologist (Tel 617-918-1054). Dave Webster chairs the monthly EPA meetings to determine which permits EPA will put resources on and schedules hearings (Tel 617-918-1791).

DEP: Gerry Szal (Worchester Office) 508-767-2789  Gerald.Szal@state.ma.us; Paul Hogan, assisting.

CZM: Todd Callaghan at 671-626-1233   Todd.Callaghan@state.ma.us   


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