The Environmental Protection Agency has issued the draft of a permit that would be required to ensure stormwater runoff from construction sites meets federal environmental standards. The EPA has issued this draft despite the fact that the Agency has not yet finalized the stormwater standards: the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals sent the stormwater standards back for revision. The court rejected portions of the standards in part because they failed to acknowledge the special circumstances surrounding the construction of power transmission lines.
Electric cooperatives own and maintain 2.5 million miles or 42 percent of the nation’s electric distribution lines, covering 75 percent of the U.S. landmass. Electric transmission and distribution lines have unique characteristics; projects on transmission lines are often relatively narrow but can go on for tens or hundreds of miles. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recognized this difference. Like the initial version of the stormwater standards, the EPA has issued a draft permit that treats the construction of distribution lines no differently than the construction of a shopping mall.
NRECA encourages EPA to delay finalizing the proposed general permit until the final Construction and Development effluent guidelines are reissued in response to the Court decision and affected parties have had a chance to review the new effluent guidelines and a revised “Construction General Permit.”