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OG&E loses appeal against EPA regulations

World Coal,

The US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition filed by Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) requesting a rehearing before the full 10-judge panel to determine if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted appropriately in rejecting the state’s plan to address visibility at national parks and wildlife areas.

In July this year, a three member panel ruled in favour of the EPA having lawfully exercised its authority to impose a federally mandated plan on Oklahoma. The panel was split, but ruled in favour 2-1.

Disappointing result
"We're very disappointed for our customers," said OG&E spokesman Paul Renfrow. "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 sizeable investment needed to meet the regional haze requirements mandated by the EPA's plan."

Renfrow added that while the company has been challenging the EPA’s plan, it has also been addressing plans to install emission control technology on its coal-fired power plants due to the time allowed for compliance in the EPA plan.

Emission control technology
Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, and a number of other state leaders have previously voiced opposition to the EPA plan, explaining that the state had developed a plan that would be equally effective as suggested emission control technology, also known as scrubbers, however cost far less. Fourteen other states also joined Oklahoma to oppose the EPA at the 10th Circuit.

"We would like to express our appreciation to our state leaders and others for their efforts," Renfrow said. "We want to extend a special note of appreciation to Attorney General Pruitt for his tireless advocacy on behalf of Oklahoma's right to determine its own course to meet these new EPA requirements."

Less coal, more natural gas
Instead of scrubbers, the Oklahoma plan suggested the use of low-sulfur coal and gives utilities the flexibility of burning less coal and more natural gas on a timetable that achieves the goals of the Regional Haze rule while limiting the cost to customers.

As a result of the decision, OG&E may be forced to spend US$ 1 billion on the installation of new emission controls on two coal-fired plants to adhere to the federal environmental regulations.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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