State sues EPA over regional haze plan
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
6/01/11 at 8:11 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Tuesday sued the Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the federal agency violated its procedures in rejecting a state plan to reduce emissions from three coal-fired power plants.
Pruitt said the EPA is formulating its own plan to reduce regional haze, a move that would be costly to electricity consumers.
"It is estimated the federal implementation plan the EPA is proposing for the state of Oklahoma could potentially cost the state $2 billion to $2.5 billion where we will be required to place scrubbers on every coal-fired plant in the state of Oklahoma," Pruitt said. "If that occurs, our utility rates it is projected in the state of Oklahoma will go up 13 to 20 percent in a three-year period."
Pruitt announced the lawsuit Tuesday during a news conference with Corporation Commission Chairwoman Dana Murphy and Oklahoma Environmental Secretary Gary Sherrer.
The suit was filed in federal court in Oklahoma City. Lisa P. Jackson, EPA administrator, is the defendant.
"While the EPA appreciates the opportunity to comment on the action filed by Oklahoma's attorney general today, we are unable to do so until a thorough review has been completed," the agency said in a statement.
The EPA wants the state's oldest coal-fired power plants to switch to cleaner-burning natural gas or install technology to reduce regional haze.
The three plants are operated by American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma northeast of Tulsa in Oologah and Oklahoma Gas & Electric near Muskogee and in north-central Oklahoma.
"According to the Clean Air Act, it is the responsibility of the state to create a plan to improve visibility and reduce regional haze in wildlife areas, and we are intent on preserving that right," Pruitt said. "By ignoring Oklahoma's plan, the EPA not only usurped the right of Oklahoma to set its own energy policy, but violated the process required by the Regional Haze Rule."
The requirements of the act are aesthetic and not health related, Pruitt said.
Gov. Mary Fallin called the EPA's decision federal overreach.
"I applaud Attorney General Pruitt for drawing this line in the sand and telling Washington that enough is enough," Fallin said.
Murphy said the Corporation Commission ensures reliable electric service at reasonable rates.
The commission has been concerned about potential drastic increases to utility bills because of the proposed federal requirements, she said.
"It is important Oklahoma consumers know when it comes to environmental mandates, the commission is required by law to allow the utility to charge the consumer the cost of meeting such mandates," Murphy said. "Once the environmental mandate is ordered, the commission's hands are tied to a large extent."
Original Print Headline: EPA breaking rules on haze, state suit says
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Scott Pruitt: He says utility rates would skyrocket under the federal plan.