The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's plan to cut emissions that impact visibility in national parks will cost Oklahoma about $282 million a year, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The report contends efforts to combat regional haze in Oklahoma and other states will not be measurably improved by the EPA's decision to impose its own emissions reduction plans.
“Despite all the publicity for other regulations, one of EPA's more dubious, and arguably illegal regulatory efforts remains below the radar to many: the regional haze rule,” study author William Yeatman said. “EPA is now implementing a program that tramples over states' authority. In the long term, EPA's abuse of its regional haze authority could present a persistent problem for all states.
“With the EPA poised to impose similar constraints on several other states in the immediate future, it's clear that no state is immune from having its rightful regional haze authority trumped by EPA at profound costs for virtually nonexistent benefits.”
Yeatman's study contends the federal Clean Air Act directs states to weigh costs against visibility benefits in deciding how to address regional haze.
“Accordingly, Oklahoma declined to impose the most expensive sulfur dioxide controls on six power plants subject to regional haze requirements, because the capital costs — almost $1.8 billion — were deemed unreasonable in light of the imperceptible benefits,” the report states.
The report includes two seemingly identical photographs of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge: one with the state's emissions controls and one with the EPA's controls.
Environmental groups dismissed the chamber's study, while applauding the EPA's efforts to protect national parks.
“For decades, EPA has ignored pressing needs to address air pollution in our national parks,” said Abigail Dillen, an attorney for Earthjustice. “Now is not the time to slow down overdue cleanups of coal-fired power plants and factories that blight the landscape and harm park visitors' health.”