Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad, Congressman Rick Berg, and Governor Jack Dalrymple announced today that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to most of the state's clean air plan for regional haze. EPA officials met today with Conrad and Hoeven, with Berg and Dalrymple joining via phone, and agreed to adopt most of the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for regional haze rather than a more costly federal plan. Through this agreement, the EPA will provide North Dakota with flexibility to implement sensible and cost-effective standards for improving visibility in selected areas of the state.
Today's agreement follows meetings held between the delegation and EPA officials, including a meeting with Administrator Lisa Jackson last December. The EPA's decision approves the SIP for Minnkota Power Cooperative's Milton R Young Station and Basin Electric's Leland Olds Plant but requires additional control technology for Basin's Antelope Valley Station, which the state had earlier proposed but EPA had previously rejected. If Basin Electric agrees to the suggestion, Antelope Valley Station will also be under the SIP. While additional data is being collected and reviewed by the state and EPA, Great River Energy's Coal Creek Station will be subject to a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP). EPA committed to an expedited review of the revised data, and the congressional delegation is hopeful it will also be included under the SIP when that new information is received.
The delegation has remained committed to affirming the State of North Dakota's ability to manage its own implementation plan, citing the state's longstanding commitment to meeting all Clean Air Act National Ambient Air Quality Standards as well as the significant progress the state has already made in reducing haze in the region.
Implementing the EPA's proposed federal plan would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars and led to increased energy costs for North Dakotans. Furthermore, the North Dakota Department of Health determined the plan would be technically infeasible and would result in visibility differences undetectable to the human eye.
"North Dakota is one of 12 states to meet all federal ambient air quality standards," said Hoeven. "Our state has long demonstrated that we can promote strong economic growth and job creation, while doing a good job of protecting our air, land and water. While there is still more work to do, today's decision by the EPA is a good step forward in recognizing our state's ability to best manage our own resources."
"The state's plan will improve visibility in North Dakota and do so at a reasonable cost. I am glad that the EPA accepted the state's determination on the appropriate technology for the Milton Young and Leland Olds plants. The EPA has committed to an expeditious review of the additional information that the state will provide," Senator Conrad said. "This is good progress and we will stay engaged until the remaining issues are resolved."
"North Dakota has worked diligently to meet the EPA's regional haze regulations and has committed substantial resources to implement a state management plan," Berg added. "I'm pleased that the EPA has finally acknowledged that North Dakota's well-researched and cost-effective plan will better address our state's needs than the forced implementation of the costly federal one-size-fits-all approach, but there is still work to be done to implement the state's plan in full and ensure that Coal Creek and Antelope Valley Stations are included under the state plan. However, I am encouraged by today's progress, and will continue to work to ensure that the EPA recognizes that North Dakota, not the federal government, is in the best position to make decisions regarding the management of our state's resources."
Governor Dalrymple met last Sunday with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
"I urged Administrator Jackson to accept the SIP to the greatest extent possible," said Dalrymple. "Their decision is mostly good news for North Dakota's coal fired plants, but we must remain firm that the Coal Creek and Antelope Valley Stations will also be included in our State Implementation Plan after a few technical issues are resolved in the near future."