"It seems to me that the Environmental Protection Agency is a hint-dropper. The Administration doesn’t come out and force conversions from coal to natural gas or renewables. But through nagging mechanisms even more powerful than those possessed by the cast of Desperate Housewives, the EPA can make life tough on coal-fired generators.
On April 14, I attended an EPA hearing in Tulsa, Okla. concerning an ongoing debate over three coal-fired plants that are not under compliance of EPA’s Clean Air Visibility Rule. The plants are Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) Company’s Muskogee and Sooner Stations, and AEP-Public Service Company of Oklahoma’s Red Rock Station. According to the rule, the stations must achieve EPA’s emission limit for SO2 – 0.15 lb/mmBtu, or 95 percent removal. OG&E said it would cost about $10,000 per ton to reduce SO2 emissions to those levels through the use of scrubber technology at its two plants.
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has submitted a State Implementation Plan (SIP), recommending Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) switches for the plants. However, the EPA identified the SIP as one that “does not meet one or more of the required elements.”
Why doesn’t it meet the requirements? Steve Thompson, executive director of ODEQ, said the BART alternative in the SIP “reduces SO2 emissions more than the primary requirements in EPA’s Federal Implementation Plan.”
So what about that is unacceptable to the EPA?
Coal is still being burned. Visibility could still be affected to some degree in federal wildlife areas – the heart of the issue.
EPA states that “switches to natural gas are an acceptable method,” as a spokesperson from Oklahoma natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy pointed out at the hearing."