Local environmental group Riverkeeper will argue a case before the Supreme Court regarding the Clean Water Act and the EPA’s use of cost-benefit analysis for power plant upgrades on Tuesday, December 2.
Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, Inc. will determine whether the federal government is authorized to compare costs with benefits in determining the ‘€œbest technology available’€ for the cooling water intakes of existing power plants. Richard Lazarus, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Supreme Court Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center, will argue the case on behalf of Riverkeeper.
The Clean Water Act requires power plants to protect fish and other aquatic life using the best technology available. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established national regulations for existing power plants as required by this legislation.
U.S. power plants in the United States kill billions of fish every day to cool their facilities withdrawing over 214 billion gallons from lakes and rivers. The “once-through cooling” process used by older power plants is the prime culprit as closed-cycle cooling system used by newer plants recirculate most of the water reducing the amount of water withdrawn and the number of fish killed by over 95 percent.
‘€œThe once-through cooling intakes of Hudson River power plants, which withdraw five billion gallons of water each day, have had a devastating effect on the river’s ecosystem,’€ said Alex Matthiessen, Hudson Riverkeeper and President. ‘€œWith this case, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to weigh in on this important environmental issue, as we seek to end the era of illegal fish kills once and for all. ‘€
Riverkeeper led a coalition of environmental groups six states challenging the weak standards that allowed power plants to seek variances to best technology available (BTA). In 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit struck down the regulations, and ruled that, in establishing BTA, the EPA should determine whether the cost of the technology can reasonably be borne by industry. The Indian Point’s owner Entergy Corporation and other energy companies petitioned the court to review the Second Circuit’s decision which will be argued on Tuesday.