Oklahoma's attorney general and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. are continuing their legal fight against a federal plan for regional haze, asking for a full review of an appellate decision that went against them in July.
In separate requests Tuesday, Attorney General Scott Pruitt and OG&E asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to convene its full panel of judges and reconsider an earlier 2-1 decision in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The regional haze rules cover emissions from power plants that affect visibility at federal parks and wilderness areas.
OG&E's petition said a rehearing was appropriate because the court will be among the first in the country to determine the limits of EPA's powers to implement regional haze rules under the Clean Air Act.
Oklahoma's plan for regional haze would let affected utilities continue to burn low-sulfur coal and install some basic pollution controls. The EPA approved parts of the plan, but still wanted the utilities to install expensive emissions-control technology called scrubbers on their coal plants. The regional haze rules cover OG&E's coal units at Red Rock and Muskogee plants.
In remarks before the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Pete Delaney, OGE Energy Corp.'s chairman, president and CEO, said OG&E remains committed to a diverse fuel supply, including coal, natural gas and wind. He said the EPA has been doing everything it can to shut down coal plants across the country.
“On appeal, you're working a little bit uphill,” Delaney said. “We know there's a lot at stake for our ratepayers because there's potential investment of $1 billion for scrubbers, so we take that very seriously.”
Delaney said OG&E agreed with Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr., the dissenting vote in the July panel decision. Kelly called the EPA's rejection of the state's plan for regional haze “arbitrary and capricious.”
Pruitt said his rehearing request was about preserving the state's ability to formulate its own plan for regional haze. The Clean Air Act requires states to make “reasonable progress” toward better visibility at federal parks and wilderness areas by 2064.
“Regional haze is about improving visibility, not about health,” Pruitt said in a statement. “The Clean Air Act clearly gives states a primary role in implementing regulations to address regional haze. Oklahoma leaders crafted a commonsense plan to meet the goals of the Clean Air Act without imposing unnecessary rate hikes on Oklahomans. The EPA was wrong to ignore the Oklahoma plan and impose a federal plan.”
We know there's a lot at stake for our ratepayers because there's potential investment of $1 billion for scrubbers, so we take that very seriously.”
OGE Energy Corp.'s chairman,