By Craig B. Simonsen

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its final 2010 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan (Plan), published at 76 Fed. Reg. 66286 (October 26, 2011). Members of the public are encouraged to submit comments on the proposed Plan.

EPA plans to develop effluent guidelines and standards for the discharge of wastewater from the Coalbed Methane Extraction (CBM) industry (estimated to generate 8% of the natural gas production in the U.S.).  It will also develop pretreatment requirements for discharges of mercury from the Dental industry, and for the discharges of wastewater from the Shale Gas Extraction (SGE) industry. In its announcement, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson indicates that “the president has made clear that natural gas has a central role to play in our energy economy. That is why we are taking steps — in coordination with our federal partners and informed by the input of industry experts, states and public health organizations — to make sure the needs of our energy future are met safely and responsibly.”

In addition, the EPA will initiate a preliminary category review for the cellulosic products segment of the Plastics Molding and Forming industrial category. EPA found too that estimated toxic-weighted pollutant discharges of lead from the Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard industrial category need further investigation.

Finally, EPA identified the need for additional data review as part of the 2011 annual review for three industrial categories: Mineral Mining and Processing; Landfills; and Waste Combustors.