Fri November 1, 2013
U.S. Appeals Court: No New Hearing for Oklahoma in Fight Over EPA Coal Rules
A federal appeals court in July ruled the EPA can implement its own plan to limit sulfur dioxide emissions at coal-fired power plants over the state’s plan. Oklahoma Gas & Electric — the state’s largest utility — and state Attorney General Scott Pruitt then asked for another hearing. On Thursday, that request was denied.
In an interview with StateImpact, OG&E spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea says the next step — if the parties opposed to the EPA regulations continue to take the legal route — would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the meantime, however, O’Shea says the utility has no choice but to follow the new rules.
“The timeframe for compliance with the Regional Haze Rule has started. So we have 55 months at this point,” O’Shea says. “And so whether we go to the Supreme Court or not, we still need to get that started.”
The ruling involved a lawsuit by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company that alleged the EPA rule is more stringent than the state’s proposed plan and that implementing it would usurp state authority. Utility officials say the federal plan would dramatically increase utility rates for Oklahomans.
Utilities maintain the Regional Haze Rule could force coal-fired plants to shutdown, install expensive air scrubbers, or convert to another fuel, like natural gas or wind to comply. OG&E has said those costs could be passed on to customers.