EPA last Friday issued the prepublication version of a federal takeover of Wyoming’s Regional Haze program. This is the 3rd federal implementation plan imposed by EPA during Obama’s second term, and the 53rd since he took office in January 2009. By comparison, there had been 2 FIPs imposed by EPA during the 12 years prior to President Obama’s election.
Regional Haze is a visibility regulation added to the Clean Air Act in 1977 and amended in 1990. Because its purpose is to improve visibility, rather than protect public health, Congress intended for States to take the lead on Regional Haze. Indeed, the power exercised by States pursuant to the Regional Haze program is unique among Clean Air Act provisions.
Wyoming submitted a Regional Haze compliance plan to the EPA in September 2011. On June 20, 2013, the agency proposed to disapprove the State’s plan, and to impose a federal plan in its stead. The prepublication of the final rule released on Friday will go final when it is published in the Federal Register, which should happen in the next 2 weeks.
Specifically, EPA disapproved the State’s Regional Haze determinations for five power plants: Pacificorp Dave Johnston Unit 3, Pacificorps Wyodak Unit 1, and Basin Electric Laramie River units 1, 2, and 3. The State wanted to install a technology to control nitrogen oxides emissions known as Low Nitrogen Burners, at a total capital cost of about $20 million. EPA insisted on a technology known as Selective Catalytic Reduction, at a total capital cost of $659 million. Above, I’ve depicted the “improvement” in visibility that warranted EPA’s federal takeover and the imposition of well more than $600 million in controls. These images were generated by the WinHaze modeling software, using EPA’s inputs. As is plainly evident, there is no difference.
Rather than serving an actual purpose, EPA’s Wyoming takeover is just another salvo in the war on coal.