NCSL Energy Supply Task Force Letter to EPA on Cooling Water Intake Systems

December 10, 2010

The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

As Co-Chairs of the NCSL Energy Supply Task Force we are writing in regard to the forthcoming proposed EPA rule governing cooling water intake structures at the nation’s electric generation and manufacturing facilities.

For over a year our bipartisan Task Force, comprised of legislators from 17 states, has studied the nation’s current energy situation as it relates to electricity production and distribution, and to the principles states can use as they work to meet their pressing energy demands. In conducting this study we came quickly to a recognition that no one approach to meeting energy demands will work for every state.

We are writing to urge EPA to similarly recognize that a “one size fits all” technology solution regarding cooling water intake systems will not work either, and that site specific technologies, taking into account cost-benefit analyses, must be critical components of your proposed rule.

State legislators are significantly involved in the development of state energy policies, and we have found that many approaches are necessary for effective policy development, recognizing the diversity of each state and region.

If EPA mandates cooling towers for every generating, or for a significant number of generating facilities, it could create serious problems of cost, water availability, adverse, unintended environmental consequences, impact on electricity reliability, and even new greenhouse gas emissions.

We are aware of a number of studies regarding the problems for cooling towers, including a conclusion by the government of the United Kingdom rejecting them, and urge EPA to carefully review and take into account those studies’ findings.

And we urge you to propose a flexible, reasonable rule that will enable state and local policy makers, who are closest to these facilities and these issues, to participate in the development of solutions best for each facility and locality.

Thank you for your consideration of these views. We stand ready to assist you in whatever manner is appropriate.


Rep. Al Carlson, Majority Leader, North Dakota House of Representatives
Co-Chair, NCSL Executive Committee Task Force on Energy Supply

Rep. Thomas Holbrook, Chair Utilities Committee, Illinois House of Representatives
Co-Chair, NCSL Executive Committee Task Force on Energy Supply

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