Energy Policy Network played a key role in supporting OG&E’s efforts to keep its coal-fueled Sooner Power Plant in operation for decades to come. In June of 2016, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) ruled that adding scrubbers to the plant was a better alternative than shutting the plant down or converting it to natural gas.
Soon after the Sooner Power Station decision, the Sierra Club filed a motion with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to dismiss the OCC decision. The Sierra Club appeal will work its way through the process over the coming months, a ruling is expected in early 2017.
In the meantime, OG&E continues construction, with well over $100 million invested in the $500 million project. Energy Policy Network continues to monitor the appeal and keep members informed on any potential need for involvement.
Energy Policy Network joined with allies and the State of Texas to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) for Regional Haze. The Powder River Basin provides 53 million tons of coal to Texas annually. EPN argued that if EPA’s Regional Haze FIP were to be enforced, it would cause the shutdown of 3,000 – 8,400 MW of coal-fueled generation.
On July 15, 2016, 5th Circuit Court handed EPA a double defeat stating that EPA had overstepped its legal authority. The Court issued a ‘stay’ of the FIP and held that the petitioners had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. They also ruled that irreparable harm would occur in the absence of a stay.
In early December the EPA withdrew its FIP for Texas. As one trade publication reported, “With U.S. EPA headed toward a likely court defeat and unable to reach a deal with opponents, they have decided to pull the plug on a Texas regional haze Federal Implementation Plan.”
Under the leadership of EPN, a diverse group of stakeholders (titled the Arkansas Affordable Energy Coalition) has come together to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Regional Haze Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) in Arkansas. The AAEC is made up of a broad-based group of companies and associations interested in maintaining low-cost electricity from coal. The heart of the FIP calls for unnecessary controls on the White Bluff and Independence coal-fueled power plants.
The FIP was issued despite the fact that Arkansas has demonstrated it is exceeding its “reasonable progress” goal for 2018 and that regional haze has actually declined and visibility has improved in Arkansas since 2004. The most egregious of the mandates would require FGD’s (scrubbers) to be added to both the White Bluff and Independence power plants. The controls for the two plants would cost $2.6 billion and provide virtually no visibility benefit detectable by the human eye. The EPN-led coalition has assessed the economic impact of the FIP and made this information available to the State of Arkansas.
The central focus of the coalition is to mount a legal challenge to the EPA’s FIP. Accordingly, AAEC timely filed a petition for review of the FIP in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Six other petitions were also filed, including one by the State of Arkansas. The state and some of the other petitioners have filed petitions with the EPA asking it to stay the FIP pending the outcome of the litigation in the Eighth Circuit. The Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association jointly filed one of the seven petitions for review, arguing that the FIP does not go far enough. All the other petitioners, including the state and AAEC, will argue that the FIP goes too far. The Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association have moved to intervene in all the other cases, including the ones filed by the state and by AAEC.
Latest Action: Arguing that the FIP does not go far enough, the Sierra Club has sued the EPA. In order to be able to address the issues raised “from the other side” by the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association, AAEC filed a motion seeking leave to intervene in their case. The deadline for opening briefs to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is set for February 17, 2017. AAEC will file its intervenor’s brief by May 10, 2017.