EPA Rule to Limit Fish Kills at Power Plants Delayed One Month

Apr 17, 2014 10:05 am ET

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Environmental Protection Agency said it will delay for a month issuing a rule to shield fish from being killed when electric utilities and factories use water for cooling machinery.

The agency will sign the rule by May 16, according to a statement yesterday. Today was the EPA’s deadline.

“EPA requires the additional time to complete inter-agency consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to the Endangered Species Act,” the EPA said.

Operators of large coal or nuclear plants, such as Entergy Corp. and Duke Energy Corp., have urged the EPA to reject pleas from environmental groups to tighten a 2011 proposal and permit flexibility in applying those rules. The regulation covers about 1,200 plants, more than half generating electricity.

The delay prompted the environmental group Riverkeeper to say it will seek to reopen a lawsuit against the EPA over the rules, according to Bloomberg BNA.

Environmental groups, which sued 20 years ago to force the agency to issue the rules, say the EPA’s plan would leave it to state regulators to decide how to handle “the task of stopping the annual slaughter of a trillion aquatic organisms.”

Under a plan the EPA offered in 2011 to prevent killing large fish that get trapped against water intake screens, a plant would need to lower the velocity at which it sucks in water or figure out another way to screen out fish so they aren’t killed.