|Letters to the EPA|
Basin Electric continues to monitor and respond to the challenges presented by the historic suite of regulatory changes advanced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act over the last few years. These changes apply in different ways to both existing and new forms of electric generation.
Because the U.S. does not have a comprehensive energy policy or comprehensive greenhouse gas policy in place, existing provisions of the Clean Air Act are being used to adopt and adapt new policies for both energy and greenhouse gases. However, the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1990 and was never intended to be used this way given its design and focus on the local and regional levels.
Three new challenges are likely to emerge.
1. Resetting of the ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) at a level that may make much of the country a non-attainment area, and potentially force another round of existing-source cost-increases or retirements, when the rule receives its five-year review in 2013.
2. Greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards that will apply to any new generation resource (new-source NSPS) under section 111b of the Clean Air Act.
3. Greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards that will apply to existing generation resources (existing-source NSPS).
Basin Electric's most recent challenges with the EPA focused on regional haze in North Dakota and Wyoming.
In September 2011, EPA threatened to override North Dakota's already diligent plan to reduce regional haze and implement a federal implementation plan (FIP). EPA’s plan would have led to increased energy costs for North Dakotans, would not have been technically feasible and would have resulted in visibility differences undetectable to the human eye. Improving visibility is the objective of the regional haze program. In March 2012, EPA issued its final rule saying it would accept part of North Dakota’s state implementation plan (SIP) for regional haze, which meant Basin Electric would not have to spend an additional hundreds of millions of dollars on technology not proven to work with lignite coal at the Leland Olds Station. Read the full story: North Dakota's clean air plan prevails.
In May 2012, EPA also issued a notice of intent to issue a partial FIP on Wyoming’s SIP that requires Laramie River Station to install selective non-catalytic reduction technology in addition to the low NOx burners and advanced separated over-fire air required by Wyoming’s SIP. The final rule is scheduled to be issued Dec. 14, 2012. Read the full story: EPA proposes regional haze plan in Wyoming.
The following stories published in Basin Electric's magazine, Basin Today, address EPA's actions over the last few years.
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