StateImpact Oklahoma
8:47 am
Tue July 9, 2013

The EPA Is Suing Oklahoma Gas & Electric Over Its Power Plant Emission Estimates

The first page of the federal government's complaint against OG&E
The first page of the federal government's complaint against OG&E
Credit StateImpact Oklahoma

The federal government on Monday filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma Gas & Electric, accusing the electric utility of violating the Clean Air Act by improperly estimating the amount of emissions that could come from upgrades at two coal-fired power plants.

A copy of the government’s complaint, which was made through the Environmental Protection Agency, is included on StateImpact Oklahoma's website.

In its lawsuit, the Environmental Protection Agency says OG&E failed to properly estimate future emission increases before starting upgrade projects at its Muskogee plant in Fort Gibson and its Sooner plant in Red Rock between 2003 and 2006. The EPA in November 2011 sent OG&E a formal “notice of violation,” the lawsuit states.

“This assessment must occur before construction on a proposed project is undertaken,” Robert Dreher, an acting Assistant Attorney General writes in the complaint:

OG&E performed numerous projects at its Muskogee and Sooner facilities without properly assessing the impact those projects would have on the plants’ future emissions. The analyses performed by OG&E at the time are legally insufficient …

OG&E spokesman Brian Alford says the utility followed proper procedures.

“Actual monitored data indicates that emissions did not increase as a result of the work performed,” Alford tells StateImpact.

OG&E is preparing a formal response to the lawsuit, but Alford says the utility likely has a different interpretation of the regulation it’s accused of violating.

In June, the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club issued a report that was critical of OG&E and its two coal-fired plants, which the environmental group says endangers Oklahomans with harmful sulfur dioxide emissions. Emissions at the power plants are under legal limits, but are likely to violate future clean air standards, the group told The Oklahoman.