Court blocks EPA regional haze rule for Oklahoma coal-fired power plants

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a stay on June 29 that blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing a regional haze plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants in Oklahoma, according to The Oklahoman newspaper.

In March 2011, the EPA required three Oklahoma coal-fired power plants – the 477 MW Unit 4 and the 517 MW Unit 5 at the Muskogee power plant and the 1,046 MW Sooner plant, all owned by Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E, NYSE: OGE)’s – to either install emissions control technology or shut down. American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) unit, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma was required to upgrade its 460 MW units 3 and 4 at the Northeastern plant outside of Tulsa. PSO initially objected to the plan along with OG&E, but agreed in April to close the two units.

OG&E and state officials have criticized EPA’s plan, saying that it would result in big electricity rate increases if they were required to install scrubbers on their units. The court blocked implementation of the plan until the appeals court can review it, the article said.

The Sierra Club in May filed a lawsuit against the EPA, saying that a loophole would allow the power plants to exceed emissions standards during certain phases of operations, such as start up, shutdown or when performing maintenance.

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