OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma utility company's attempt to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency regional haze rule regarding emissions at two coal-fired power plants has been rejected by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 Friday against Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co.'s challenge. The court says the EPA has authority to review the state's plan to reduce haze in the state and lawfully implemented its own plan to limit sulfur dioxide emissions.

OG&E alleged the EPA rule is more stringent than the state's and that implementing it usurped state authority.

The Sierra Club praised the court's ruling.

"OG&E sends hundreds of millions of dollars out of state each year to import coal and the pollution that comes with it. For a state with abundant, homegrown natural resources, this makes no sense," said David Ocamb, director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club. "The Court upheld the law and acted in Oklahoma's best interests when OG&E wouldn't. It's time for OG&E to do what's right and phase out their coal plants. "

"This is a disappointing decision for OG&E customers," said company spokesman Brian Alford.  "We agree with Judge Kelly in his opinion that is set out in the dissent.  ‘Its goals and standards are purely aesthetic rather than directly linked to health and safety.  The EPA's rule here requires OG&E to make a $1.2 billion investment over the next five years that will, even under EPA's estimate, result in no appreciable change in visibility.  Moreover, there is no evidence this investment will have any effect whatsoever on air quality.  It surely will, however, result in adverse changes to what Oklahoma ratepayers will pay for electricity.'"

OG&E Energy Vice President of Governance and Environmental Trish Horn said that the company will be reviewing its options from this three judge panel's decision.

"We'll be meeting with Attorney General Pruitt and others to determine our next steps for action," Trish Horn said.  "A likely option will be to ask that the case be heard by the entire 10th Circuit panel."

OG&E operates coal plants at Fort Gibson in Muskogee County and Red Rock in Pawnee County.