regional haze

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

For the past several weeks the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has heard from attorneys for Oklahoma Gas & Electric regarding the utility’s request for approval to spend $1.1 billion.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

On Nov. 24, the U.S.

Meers area resident Bill Cunningham looks for haze over the Wichita Mountains from the top of Mt. Scott.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s largest utility companies will spend more than $1 billion to upgrade coal-fired power plants or retire them in favor of natural gas, all to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Haze Rule, which is meant to improve visibility at national parks and wildlife refuges.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) at an impromptu news conference during climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.
Andrew Revkin / Flickr

The Republican wave that put the party back in full control of Congress also put Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe back in charge of the Senate committee that oversees the country’s environmental policies.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Haze Rule is meant to clear the air at national parks and wildlife refuges by reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Mark Turnauckas / Flickr Creative Commons

Public Service Company of Oklahoma — which provides electricity to more than a half-million Oklahomans — can move ahead with plans to retire its coal-fired power plants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday.

The agreement between the utility, state, and EPA is expected to bring PSO into compliance with regional haze regulations, the federal government’s effort to clear the air at national parks and wildlife refuges.

The Grand River Dam Authority's coal-fired plant in Chouteau, Okla., which is impacted by the Regional Haze Rule.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Oklahoma’s largest utility company, OG&E,have been fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Haze Rule since the federal agency rejected Oklahoma’s plan to reduce sulfur dioxide pollution at its coal-fired power plants in 2011.

Meers area resident Bill Cunningham looks for haze over the Wichita Mountains from the top of Mt. Scott.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Federal regulators are forcing Oklahoma’s largest utility companies to lower emissions at their coal fired power plants or shut them down. The goal of the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule is to clear the air on federal lands like national parks and refuges.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A federal appeals court in July ruled the EPA can implement its own plan to limit sulfur dioxide emissions at coal-fired power plants over the state’s plan. Oklahoma Gas & Electric — the state’s largest utility — and state Attorney General Scott Pruitt then asked for another hearing. On Thursday, that request was denied.

In an interview with StateImpact, OG&E spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea says the next step — if the parties opposed to the EPA regulations continue to take the legal route — would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oklahoma Attorney General's Office

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is no fan of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and filing lawsuits against the federal agency has become a signature of the state’s chief legal adviser.