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Appeals court blocks EPA plan addressing Oklahoma's regional haze

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has stopped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing its plan to reduce emissions from Oklahoma coal plants until judges can review it.
BY JAY F. MARKS Modified: June 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm •  Published: June 22, 2012

Oklahoma has won a reprieve on implementing a potentially costly federal plan to limit visibility issues caused by emissions from the state's aging coal plants.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a stay Friday, blocking enforcement of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regional haze plan.

Oklahoma officials and utility companies have criticized the EPA plan since the agency last year rejected the state's plan to reduce emissions that affect visibility at federal wildlife areas.

They contend the EPA plan could result in hefty electricity rate increases if utilities are forced to install expensive scrubbers.

Tulsa-based Public Service Co. of Oklahoma withdrew its objections to the EPA plan in April when it announced an agreement to phase out its last two state coal plants, but Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. continues to fight against the federal plan.

Friday's ruling blocks implementation of the plan until the appeals court can review it.

“We're pleased with the court's decision and believe it's the right approach,” OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said. “It prevents us from having to make costly investments and ensures that an economic burden isn't placed on our customers before the 10th Circuit rules on the case.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the ruling was a “significant victory” for the state.

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