New EPA Rules Attacked by Governor, Sec. of State

New EPA Rules Attacked by Governor, Sec. of State

File photo.

CHEYENNE – Two Wyoming officials are voicing displeasure with the Environmental Protection Agency after rules were issued impacting the future of coal-fired power plants in the state.

The EPA rules include regulations requiring coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants to control 90% of their pollution, a rule strengthening the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for coal-fired power plants, a rule requiring a reduction of pollutants released from coal-fired plants through wastewater discharges by 660 million pounds per year, and a rule requiring safe management of coal ash in places that were previously unregulated.

The EPA says the rules will significantly reduce pollution in the air, land and water from the energy industry, and delivers on a Biden-Administration commitment to “protect public health, advance environmental justice, and confront the climate crisis.”

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“This year, the United States is projected to build more new electric generation capacity than we have in two decades – and 96 percent of that will be clean,” President Joe Biden’s National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said in a statement. “President Biden’s leadership has not only sparked an unprecedented expansion in clean electricity generation, his leadership has also launched an American manufacturing renaissance. America is now a magnet for private investment, with hundreds of billions of dollars committed and 270,000 new clean energy jobs created. This is how we win the future, by harnessing new technologies to grow our economy, deliver environmental justice, and save the planet for future generations.”

However, Gov. Mark Gordon is quick to criticize the rules and the potential impact they could have in Wyoming and has directed the state’s attorney general to lead a coalition of states to challenge the rule.. 

“It is clear the only goal envisioned by these rules released by the Environmental Protection Agency today is the end of coal communities in Wyoming,” Gordon said in a statement. “EPA has weaponized the fear of climate change into a crushing set of rules that will result in an unreliable electric grid, unaffordable electricity, and thousands of lost jobs. This administration has turned its back on the very industries and states that have made our country strong.”

Gordon called the announcement disappointing, saying they are a travesty and will have devastating effects. He also said the existing rules have protected Wyoming’s waterways and said the new regulations overall further burden the state’s power plants. 

Secretary of State Chuck Gray added his voice to Gordon’s.
“The EPA’s new rules are a deliberate attack on Wyoming’s fossil fuel economy and the small businesses dependent on Wyoming coal and natural gas,” Gray said in a statement. “As a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives, I fought to protect Wyoming coal through legislation aimed at preserving Wyoming’s coal producing facilities. As Secretary of State, I feel it is my duty to protect both our core industries and the businesses our office serves, who will face the wrath from these continued attacks on our Wyoming values by these onerous and unlawful federal regulations.”

A recent update to Pacificorp’s Integrated Resource Plan included a change in how the company will handle Units 3 and 4 at the Jim Bridger Power Plant. According to the new IRP, the two newer units will have carbon capture technology installed, a change from the original plan to convert the two units to natural gas. That change doesn’t indicate a shift away from coal, however, as the company plans to receive 12 years of investment tax credits after installation. The lifespan of the units will only be extended two years beyond their original retirement date.