Last week, Wyoming sued the Environmental Protect Agency over its regional haze plan, claiming the regulations went too far. This week, environmentalists sued the EPA claiming the regulations didn't go far enough.
Earthjustice filed the suit Monday on behalf of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, the National Parks Association and the Sierra Club. The groups argued the EPA's final plan represented a step back from the agency's draft and undercut efforts to protect clean air and the public health in the Cowboy State.
They cited EPA figures which found Wyoming's coal-fired power plants released about 47,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 40,000 tons of sulfur pollution.
“When coal is burning at Wyoming power plants, nearby states get electricity and we get the pollution,” said Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a landowners group based in Sheridan. “With the modern technologies available now to cut smokestack emissions or generate electricity from cleaner sources, there’s just no excuse for any more foot dragging or loopholes on cleaning up Wyoming’s power plants.”
Their suit was announced three days after Wyoming filed an appeal to the plan, arguing the federal plan would prove too costly for the state's utilities. The Wyoming Office of Consumer Advocate estimated in August that the plan would cost the state's utilities $180 in capital upgrades and $60 million in annual operating costs.
“EPA’s plan does not noticeably improve air visibility, compared to Wyoming’s plan, but EPA’s plan will cost far more to Wyoming businesses and ratepayers,” Mead said in a statement released Friday announcing the suit.
Both lawsuits were filed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The federal plan to reduce harmful emissions in Wyoming mirrors much of what the state proposed to curb air pollution. The EPA adopted 10 of Wyoming's 15 recommendations, but said more emissions controls were needed at five plants: a Wyodack Power Plant unit near Gillette, a Dave Johnston unit and three units at the Laramie River Station near Wheatland.
Environmentalist said that represented a step back from EPA's draft plans. That version called also called for additional emission controls at two Naughton Plant units and a Dave Johnston Power Plant unit. Neither were included in the final plan.
In other energy news
- State Oil and Gas Supervisor Grant Black resigned from his position yesterday. His resignation was unanimously accepted by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The reason for his resignation was not provided. Black, who was pursuing a change to the state's rules governing flaring, setbacks and bonding on oil and gas wells, lasted 10 months in the job. Our story on his resignation is here.
- Encana Corp. sold its assets in the Jonah field to TPG Capital for $1.8 billion on Monday. The sale represented a shift away from natural gas and towards oil and liquid natural gas production for the Canadian producer. TPG, a private equity firm, said it plans to retain Encana's Jonah field employees and will maintain an office in Pinedale. Our story.
- A Sen. John Barrasso campaign to boost natural gas exports might be gaining traction, Wyoming Public Radio reports. In an interview with the radio station, the Republican lawmakers said he wants to use Wyoming natural gas as a weapon against Russia. Much of Europe is dependent on natural gas from Russia. American exports could undercut Russia's influence on the continent, he said. The Wyoming Republican has had difficulty attracting support for his proposal in recent weeks. His proposal to boost exports as part of an aid package to Ukraine was shot down in committee. But his most recent plan is garnering some bipartisan support, according to WPM's Matt Laslo.
By the numbers
- Natural gas prices: Henry Hub $4.47, Wyoming pool $4.35
- Oil prices: West Texas Intermediate $101.58, Brent Crude $107.76