Court rules EPA guidelines for coal wastewater, leachate need to be tightened FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A federal appeals court vacated two provisions of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring power plants to treat toxic waste streams because the regulations illegally relied on decades-old technology.The April 12 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit dealt a fresh blow to the operators of coal-fired power plants, who may now have to spend millions of dollars more to comply with the EPA’s effluent limitations guidelines for steam power plants.The court called EPA’s acknowledgment that the technology at issue is out of date a “charitable understatement” at best. “The last time these guidelines were updated was during the second year of President Reagan’s first term, the same year that saw the release of the first CD player, the Sony Watchman pocket television, and the Commodore 64 home computer,” the court recalled.The EPA finalized the effluent rule in November 2015 after conducting a three-year study that found pollution from steam-electric power plant industry is the largest source of toxic water pollution in the country. The rule required cleanup technologies for six different waste streams, including two separate classes known as leachate and legacy wastewater.Environmental and industry petitioners challenged the rule in multiple federal appeals courts and the cases were eventually consolidated before the 5th Circuit. A coalition of environmental groups including the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club took specific aim at the EPA’s effluent limitations guidelines for leachate and legacy wastewater, arguing the agency violated the “technology-forcing” Clean Water Act by maintaining standards that had already been in place since 1982.Leachate is liquid that becomes contaminated as it percolates through or drains from a landfill or surface impoundment, while legacy wastewater encompasses wastewater from five of the streams as long as it is generated before a certain date. Instead of requiring modern chemical or biological treatment like it did for other waste streams, the EPA selected surface impoundments — or pits where wastewater sits — as the “Best Available Technology Economically Available,” or BAT, for treating leachate and legacy wastewater under the statute. In doing so, the EPA asserted that it lacked sufficient data to determine whether chemical or biological treatment would be effective on leachate and legacy wastewater. However, environmental groups contended that the EPA’s own rulemaking record refutes the notion that surface impoundments are the BAT for leachate and legacy wastewater because the agency demonstrated that impoundments are ineffective at removing toxic pollutants.More ($): Federal appeals court tosses US EPA wastewater guidelines targeting power plants
This undated handout photo provided by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP shows Michele Roberts. (AP Photo/Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP)Michele Roberts has watched basketball for as long as she can remember. It was an easy choice growing up in a home with one TV and two older brothers.When she saw an interview last year with an NBA player and noticed how passionately he talked about trying to improve his embattled union, she wanted to be more than a fan. She wanted to be involved.Now the Washington trial lawyer is the first woman to lead a North American pro sports union.Roberts was elected Tuesday as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, and she’s eager to provide the leadership it needs after a few difficult years.“They were looking for, not a man, not a woman, they were looking for a personality,” Roberts said in a phone interview. “I think I’m that personality and I intend to be what I have been in my entire practice, singularly devoted to this union. And that’s what they were looking for.“Someone, whether it be a boy or a girl, who understood that this was their union, and they intended to run it, and they were looking for someone who appreciated that and was not going to deviate from that.”Roberts received 32 of 36 votes at a meeting of players in Las Vegas, defeating tech industry CEO Dean Garfield and Dallas Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery in the final vote.It capped a long and arduous process to replace Billy Hunter, who was ousted in February 2013. Roberts was one of the finalists initially offered to the rank-and-file during All-Star weekend in February, but the process was re-opened under another search committee at the urging of some players and agents.More than 100 players reconvened in Las Vegas this week, and after some tense moments leading up to the vote, Roberts emerged as the winner.“Obviously, I would’ve preferred that it happen sooner rather than later, but I completely understood when there were questions raised about the process,” Roberts said. “Frankly, I would not have wanted them to ignore those questions and not affirmatively address those concerns. I wanted the job in February, but I wanted the job where there would be no questions about the fairness or the process, so I completely endorsed the executive committee to address these questions, and they did and now best I can tell they’re very pleased.”The players considered more than 300 candidates during their 17-month search before picking Roberts, who has been called the finest trial lawyer in Washington by “Washingtonian Magazine.” She said her new job will feature straight, honest talk, just like she delivers to a jury, and the strategizing that made her such a successful lawyer.The search to replace Hunter, who led the NBPA from 1996 until a review of the union was critical of his business practices, leaves players with less than two years to prepare for the next potential collective bargaining talks. Either the union or the league can opt out of the current agreement in 2017.The union has struggled for years with in-fighting and a lack of organization, and the players took a significant cut in their guarantee of basketball-related income — 57 percent to about 50 percent, a drop of hundreds of millions annually in salary costs — in the contentious lockout in 2011. League revenues are on the rise, a new TV contract is set to be negotiated in 2016 and franchise valuations are skyrocketing.“As far as I’m concerned, preparations for CBA negotiations started yesterday,” Roberts said. “It’s at the top of my list of things that I’ve been instructed to begin the process of preparing for, and sure it’s a lot to do, but I’ve never been shy about hard work and long hours, so we’ll get it done. We’ll be ready.”NBA Commissioner Adam Silver congratulated Roberts in a statement, saying he looked forward to working with her “to ensure the continued health and growth of our game.”“The partnership between our players and teams is the backbone of the league, and we are eager to continue working with the Players Association to build this relationship,” Silver said.The fallout from the lockout and the Hunter ouster left the union reeling. But it also made Roberts want to get involved, which will bring the New York native back home.“The more I thought about it,” she said, “the more I thought that would be a great opportunity to do something really important.”___AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.