Dirty Water Riders, New Standards for Power Plants, and the Clean Water Rule

September ended with a flowing river of clean water activity. First of all, Congress has agreed to a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running past the budget deadline of October 1st. That means polluters failed to insert a dirty water rider into this first phase of the budget battle. The real budget fight now commences, with negotiations beyond the CR going into September.

But not all news was bright on Capitol Hill. Also on Wednesday, Senator Inhofe (OK) seized on a set of internal Army Corps of Engineers memos to convene yet another hearing to attack the Clean Water Rule. Grilling Corps’ General Jo Ellen Darcy, Inhofe was incredulous that the Corps (which administers the wetlands part of the Clean Water Act) would approve the Rule when her own staff had raised serious questions about it. Lost in Inhofe’s umbrage is the fact that at least some of the concerns raised in the Corps’ memos argued that the rule should be even stronger.

Third, EPA announced yet another clean water measure – standards to curb the impact of power plants on our rivers and streams. According to the EPA, The rule sets the first federal limits on the levels of toxic metals in wastewater that can be discharged from power plants, and they project it to reduce the amount of toxic metals, nutrients, and other pollutants that steam electric power plants are allowed to discharge by 1.4 billion pounds and reduce water withdrawal by 57 billion gallons annually.

Finally, the EPA is expected to propose a stormwater rule this coming December. We’ll keep you in the loop as we hear more.