Oklahoma and its largest electricity provider on Thursday lost another bid to avoid the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's plan to reduce haze.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver refused to revisit a three-judge panel's July 19 decision in favor of the government's plan.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. contends the ruling means it will be forced to install expensive scrubbers to reduce emissions from its coal-fired power plants.
“We're very disappointed for our customers,” OG&E spokesman Paul Renfrow said. “While we continue to weigh our legal options, including an appeal to the Supreme Court, the 10th Circuit's decision makes it increasingly likely that our customers will be paying higher rates on their electric bills because of the sizable investment needed to meet the regional haze requirements mandated by the EPA's plan.”
OG&E and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt have been fighting for the state's regional haze plan, which was rejected by the EPA.
The Oklahoma plan would have allowed state utilities to continue burning low-sulfur coal and install some basic pollution controls, while the EPA plan calls for more expensive scrubbers.
Tulsa-based Public Service Co. of Oklahoma settled with the EPA last year when it agreed to retire its remaining coal-fired units in the state by 2026.
The Sierra Club hailed Thursday's decision as a victory for clean air.
“Today's ruling reaffirms what we already know: EPA's plan to reduce serious pollution levels is common sense and good for Oklahomans,” the Sierra Club's Whitney Pearson said. “We will see cleaner air and clearer skies when the plan is put into action.”