The U.S. EPA announced a final rule, established under the Clean Water Act, that will provide increased protection to fish, shellfish and other aquatic life. This action sets standards for cooling water intake structures at new oil and gas extraction facilities either at offshore or coastal locations.
The rule applies to an estimated 124 new rigs and platforms expected to be built over the next two decades. These facilities could require as much as 20 mgd to cool the equipment.
Derived from Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, this is the final action of a three-phase process that began by implementing requirements for new facilities, but did not include offshore or coastal oil and gas facilities. The second rule addressed existing power plants that use more than 50 mgd of cooling water.
Cooling water intake structures at existing manufacturing facilities and certain power generators will continue to abide by section 316(b) requirements established on a case-by-case, best professional judgment basis through the water permitting program. The final rule does not change the regulatory requirements for facilities subject to the first and second regulations.