The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given preliminary approval to Colorado’s plan to reduce pollutant emissions that affect visibility at federal wildlife areas.
Oklahoma saw its plan to address regional haze rejected by the EPA last year. The state and its two largest utility companies last month asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeal in Denver to review the EPA’s decision.
At first read, the difference between the states’ plans seems to be Colorado’s willingness to retire old coal plants and switch others to natural gas, while Oklahoma had hoped to switch to low-sulfur coal to keep its coal plants in operation for the forseeable future.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he was pleased with the EPA’s ruling.
“The EPA’s proposal to approve the Regional Haze Plan is a ringing endorsement of a comprehensive and collaborative effort to address this issue. This plan is a major step in the state’s efforts to comply with the federal Regional Haze rule, a congressionally-established air quality goal that seeks to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas across the country, while also providing public health benefits.”
The EPA’s plan for Oklahoma could lead to unprecedented utility bill increases, but environmental groups like the Sierra Club contend it is an important step in protecting state residents from pollution