Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) is being sued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because back in 2006 OG&E made $60 million in upgrades to their two coal fired generating plants. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on July 9 stated that OG&E, a unit of OGE Energy Corp, failed to estimate emissions resulting from construction projects between 2003 and 2006 at its facilities. The projects were at OG&E’s two coal-fired plants – the 1,510-megawatt Muskogee in Fort Gibson and 1,038-MW Sooner in Red Rock. The EPA wants the court to require OG&E to assess whether its projects were likely to result in a significant emissions increase and submit that assessment to the agency.
Passed by the Congress in 1977 as an amendment to the Clean Air Act, the regional haze rule is an aesthetic visibility standard designed to reduce haze on federal lands. In Oklahoma, it is currently being applied by the EPA to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge near Lawton to mandate fuel switching at two power generation units more than 250 miles away in far northeastern Oklahoma. While Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) has opted to fight the EPA in court on this issue, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), has opted to settle with the EPA. This settlement agreement will result in an 11-12% rate increase, according to PSO estimates. Other estimates reflect a 20% increase at a cost of $200 more per year for the average Oklahoma family.
In 2009, that State Representative Sally Kern authored a bill that was called: The Oklahoma Environmental Authority Act. If passed, the act would have created a state question for the voters to amend our constitution during the 2010 general election to urge Oklahoma’s regulatory agencies such as the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Corporation Commission to cooperate with the EPA when possible, but all FINAL decisions on the environment would be determined by the DEQ and the Corporation Commission.
Authoring this legislation earned Representative Kern a label of being fringe by Oklahoma’s progressives. However, people who understand the extreme encroachment of the federal government and its bureaucracy upon the sovereign states and the people can see Kern as a visionary and a state’s rights nullification leader.
In response to the EPA’s lawsuit on Monday, July 22, 2013, the Oklahoma chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP-OK) began circulating a petition calling upon state policymakers including Governor Fallin, state legislators, and Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners to prevent utility rate increases on Oklahomans by rejecting the revised State Implementation Plan (SIP) for compliance with the Obama EPA’s regional haze rule.
AFP-OK State Director Matt Ball commented, “At a time when Oklahomans overwhelmingly agree that electricity rates are already too high, why should state policymakers support a settlement agreement with the Obama EPA and other liberal environmental groups like the Sierra Club that will raise rates on PSO customers up to $200 more per year and pave the way for rates to be raised on all Oklahomans?”
“President Obama has made clear his intentions on power plant regulation and this one EPA regulation, by mandating fuel-switching, will effectively mandate how much Oklahomans will pay for electricity,” Ball said.
“While the heavy-handed approach of President Obama’s EPA is likely to result in utility rate hikes on Oklahoma families and businesses, what is more troubling is that state policymakers might consider supporting it. This plan hurts Oklahomans’ pocketbooks and makes our state less competitive for jobs. AFP-OK is circulating this petition so that state policymakers are made aware of how Oklahomans feel about this important pocketbook issue.”
OG&E may be to blame for their problems today because they, along with other utilities and some in the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma, were opposed to Kern’s legislation. The main reason given to Kern in 2009 was that the Obama administration didn’t like Oklahoma very much; and if The Oklahoma Environmental Authority Act were to pass, they might make life very hard on Oklahoma businesses. It seems that life will become very hard anyway.
A link to the AFP-Oklahoma petition can be found HERE.
Much information in this article is from the OCPAC weekly newsletter, Reuters, and theokie.com.