Oklahoma Energy Leaders Criticize EPA Proposal To Reduce Pollution

Wednesday, March 23rd 2011, 4:51 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Energy leaders are criticizing a proposal from Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA wants to reduce pollution from coal fired plants to clear the air in national parks.

Dozens of people packed the hearing room for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Wednesday.

Lawyers, state officials, and supporters of alternative fuels spoke about the EPA's proposal to reduce pollution at three coal fired power plants across the state.

It wants PSO and OG&E to install new technology and scrubbers or switch to natural gas at its facilities in Oologah, Muskogee, and Red Rock. The EPA says its proposal would reduce emissions by nearly 95 percent.

"What we can't lose track of is that the state doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be reasonable and EPA has taken, I think, a strange position as it relates to the fundamental legal question," William Bullard, with OG&E, said.

The purpose of Wednesday's hearing was to allow state leaders the chance to hear arguments for and against the plan and decide what steps should be taken next.

PSO and OG&E say the proposal will cost their companies billions of dollars and that will ultimately hit the pocketbooks of its customers.

3/8/2011 Related Story: PSO: EPA Proposal Could Raise Customers' Fees By 12 Percent

"The state is taking the position that, to the extent we can, we want to mitigate utility rate impacts to our citizens while still being protective of the environment," Steve Thompson, with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, said.

Supporters of the EPA plan say it's a great way to improve the health of Oklahomans.

"It's the environmentally sound option and it's also going to clean up the air which will protect human health," Whitney Pearson, with the Oklahoma Sierra Club, said.

The state has until May 23, 2011, to speak out about the EPA's proposal. The EPA has scheduled a public hearing for Tulsa, but a date has not been set.

Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt announced Wednesday he plans to sue the EPA if the rules are implemented.