OG&E requests new regional haze hearing before full 10th Circuit

Company says that the EPA over-reached its authority, disregarded facts

Sep 03, 2013, 18:23 ET from OGE Energy Corp.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In a petition filed today at U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Oklahoma Gas and Electric today joined Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in requesting a rehearing before the full 10-judge panel to determine if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted appropriately in rejecting the state's plan to address visibility at national parks and wildlife areas.  In July, a split, three-member panel ruled 2-1 that the EPA lawfully exercised its authority to impose a federally mandated plan on the state.  If upheld, the panel's ruling is expected to result in large rate increases for Oklahoma electric consumers.

"This is among the first decisions in the country to address EPA's review under the Clean Air Act's regional haze provisions," said OG&E spokesman Brian Alford.  "The majority opinion gives EPA the ability to replace the State of Oklahoma's decision with its own.  This is especially egregious considering the errors made by the EPA when it conducted its own analysis."

Alford added that the three-member panel opinion failed to require the EPA to show why the state's rule was unreasonable before the agency could reject the state's implementation plan.  In addition, OG&E believes that EPA's analysis were frequently based on assumptions unsupported by the record, contrary to basic engineering or economic realities, or based on materials or analysis that EPA did not provide to Oklahoma during the State's lengthy process for making its BART determination.

The company applauded Pruitt for his efforts to protect the State of Oklahoma's right to determine the best way to meet visibility requirements in protected areas.

"AG Pruitt has been very instrumental in leading the fight on behalf of Oklahoma's ratepayers," Alford said.  "He has made it clear in both his oral argument before the court and in court documents that the EPA has over-reached its authority and is forcing OG&E's customers to bear the burden of more than $1 billion in unnecessary bill increases."

In the past, the Governor's office, state Attorney General, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and others voiced opposition to the EPA plan saying that the state developed a plan that would be more effective than costly pollution control technology, or scrubbers, and cost far less.

Instead of scrubbers, the Oklahoma plan called for use of low sulfur coal and gives affected utilities in the state flexibility of burning less coal and more natural gas on a timetable that achieves the goals of the Regional Haze rule while limiting the cost to customers. He also noted the regional haze regulations pertain to visibility in national parks and wilderness areas and not to public health.

OG&E is a subsidiary of OGE Energy Corp. (NYSE: OGE), and serves more than 800,000 customers in a service territory spanning 30,000 square miles in Oklahoma and western Arkansas.

SOURCE OGE Energy Corp.