CASPER, Wyo. — Last week, Wyoming sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its regional haze plan, claiming the regulations went too far. This week, environmentalists sued the EPA claiming the regulations didn't go far enough.
Earthjustice filed the suit Monday on behalf of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, the National Parks Association and the Sierra Club. The groups argued the EPA's final plan represented a step back from the agency's draft and undercut efforts to protect clean air and the public health in the Cowboy State.
They cited EPA figures which found Wyoming's coal-fired power plants released about 47,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 40,000 tons of sulfur pollution.
“When coal is burning at Wyoming power plants, nearby states get electricity and we get the pollution,” said Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a landowners group based in Sheridan. “With the modern technologies available now to cut smokestack emissions or generate electricity from cleaner sources, there’s just no excuse for any more foot dragging or loopholes on cleaning up Wyoming’s power plants.”
Their suit was announced three days after Wyoming filed an appeal to the plan, arguing the federal plan would prove too costly for the state's utilities. The Wyoming Office of Consumer Advocate estimated in August that the plan would cost the state's utilities $180 million in capital upgrades and $60 million in annual operating costs.
“EPA’s plan does not noticeably improve air visibility, compared to Wyoming’s plan, but EPA’s plan will cost far more to Wyoming businesses and ratepayers,” Mead said in a statement released Friday announcing the suit.
Both lawsuits were filed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The federal plan to reduce harmful emissions in Wyoming mirrors much of what the state proposed to curb air pollution. The EPA adopted 10 of Wyoming's 15 recommendations, but said more emissions controls were needed at five plants: a Wyodak Power Plant unit near Gillette, a unit at the Dave Johnston plant near Glenrock and three units at the Laramie River Station near Wheatland.
Environmentalist said that represented a step back from EPA's draft plans. That version called also called for additional emission controls at two Naughton Plant units and a Dave Johnston Power Plant unit. Neither were included in the final plan.