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Administration Moving Quickly on Environmental Regulations

With fewer than 1,000 days left in the current administration, regulatory action is heating up.

(Click here to see the story as it appears in June's Modern Casting.)

The Obama administration has fewer than 1,000 days remaining in its term to enact its environmental regulatory agenda. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is aggressively writing regulatory language for a host of rules that address the administration's concerns about global warming.

Highlighted below are a few of the key rules of interest to the metalcasting industry that EPA has recently issued and/or will be releasing in the months ahead:

Final Standards for Cooling Water Intake Structures at Power Plants and Other Facilities—EPA released its final section 316(b) rule to establish performance standards for the regulation of cooling water intake structures at existing power plants and other facilities. The standards are intended to protect fish and other aquatic organisms by minimizing capture both in screens attached to intake structures and in the actual intake structures. The rule will not require all existing plants to use closed-loop systems, known as cooling towers. Environmental groups whose lawsuits prompted EPA to propose and finalize this rule have already signaled their intent to challenge the rule over EPA’s failure to require cooling water towers or other stringent control measures for all affected facilities.

Key Date:  EPA released the Cooling Water Intake Structure rule this May.

Existing Power Plant Rule—EPA is expected to unveil the nation's first carbon emissions limits for existing power plants, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gases.  This rule is expected to be the most significant climate action the administration will undertake. No matter how much flexibility the EPA’s rule offers, some consumers will have to pay to comply. States dependent on coal would feel the biggest hit. Some states may have an easier time than others to meet the rule’s requirements. At least 30 states already have laws requiring some portion of their power to come from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydropower, and they might be allowed to count those programs toward compliance with the rule.  

Key Date:  The proposed rule is scheduled to be released June 2.

Ozone Rule—Under the current standard issued in 2008, ground-level ozone levels are currently set at 75 parts per billion, but according to a draft document released in February, the agency is considering tightening the standard to 60 parts per billion. Tightened standards could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas. These could be the costliest EPA regulations ever.  

Key Date: EPA is expected to release a proposal for the new ozone rule by December 1. 

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