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EPA, Sierra Club seek to deny Oklahoma AG's delay of pollution rule

The Sierra Club joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in asking an appeals court to deny requests by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. to block a plan to reduce pollution.
BY ROBERT BOCZKIEWICZ Published: May 12, 2012
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“A stay of EPA's plan would result in grave harm to public health, including premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma events,” the Sierra Club told the judges.

In reaching its conclusion, the group cited the opinion of an environmental health professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

The attorney general's staff said last month the EPA pollutant requirement “is not health related.”

Pruitt, citing utilities' data, has said the cost to OG&E could cause consumers, including industries, to pay much more for electricity and would cause a loss of jobs.

Costs vs. benefits

The old coal-fired plants are responsible for more than one-third of the sulfur dioxide pollution from all industrial and utility sources in the state, according to EPA.

The federal agency's final rule approved most of the state's plan for reducing haze but rejected part of the plan that dealt with retrofitting plants with equipment to reduce pollution.

Oklahoma authorities contend EPA's plan would be too expensive and not produce enough benefits to justify the cost.

EPA contends that state authorities, relying on OG&E figures, “greatly overestimated” the cost.

American Electric Power-Public Service Co. appealed the requirement separately but recently resolved its dispute by agreeing to stop using coal at the Oologah plant.