Oklahoma Utilities React After Trump Ends Obama's Clean Power Plan

Wednesday, March 29th 2017, 9:27 am
By: News On 6

Some Oklahoma utility companies are reacting after President Donald Trump signed an executive order rolling back the Clean Power Plan.

The move fulfills one of his major campaign promises.  The set of policies by the Obama administration were designed to battle climate change.

The East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative based in Okmulgee is one utility that's pleased with the announcement.

General Manager Tim Smith said it will help keep costs down.

"This was great and welcome news to understand that the Trump administration really sees the impact the Clean Power Plan was going to have on rural America, and all of America," Smith said.

Mr. Trump signed the Energy Independence executive order, which essentially wipes out President Obama's regulations designed to prevent global warming.

Mr. Trump’s order would allow the sale of new coal leases on federal land and allow coal mining there; and it gets rid of limits on greenhouse gas emissions for any future power plants.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club say this is a step backward.

"People don't want to go back to the days of dirty air, and air pollution and that kind of thing going on. I think many of them like what's happening," said Barbara VanHanken with the Green Country Sierra Club.

Other Oklahoma companies say things won't really change.

PSO, for example, only has one coal unit left. That plant, which is in Oologah, will shut down in 2026 anyway, to comply with the Clean Air Act.

And the Grand River Dam Authority will close its coal unit to comply with another law, the Mercury Rule.

GRDA also uses cleaner alternatives - like a new natural gas unit which, it says, is the most efficient generator of its kind in the entire country.

Smith said, "Renewable resources, energy-efficient measures, things that we can do to improve the environment, have clean air, clean water - those are always on the forefront. We want to do that."

Experts say it will take years for the executive order to take effect because the Clean Power Plan is still tied up in court.