(ARLINGTON, VA.) National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jo Ann Emerson issued the following statement today on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule for cooling water intake structures. The EPA rule, authorized by Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, is intended to reduce the potential impacts of existing power plant structures on fish populations.
Electric cooperatives support clean water requirements that are based on sound science and which can be met in a cost-effective manner. We agree with EPA’s decision not to require costly closed-cycle cooling systems at all existing sites.
We remain concerned, however, that the new requirement for biological studies and federal consultations as part of the state permitting process sets a precedent that will be costly and, potentially, unworkable.
Cooperatives are also concerned that compliance with this rule, one of many new regulations being layered on electric utilities, could lead to higher electricity prices.
Not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperatives serve 93 percent of our nation’s “persistent poverty counties.” Cooperative members value, and deserve, a healthy environment. However, because of the economic challenges faced by so many cooperatives and their member-owners, it is critical that EPA regulatory programs be cost effective and provide environmental benefits that exceed the implementation and compliance costs.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.