Governor Matt Mead says Wyoming has put a lot of resources into a strong plan for addressing regional haze and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should not deny part of Wyoming's plan. The regional haze program is intended to address aesthetic and visibility concerns. Governor Mead says Wyoming's plan is already in the works and power producers have already invested millions of dollars in new technologies to meet Wyoming's requirements and those changes are already reducing haze. The federal government's plan would be significantly more costly.
In his comment letter to the EPA Governor Mead wrote, "Wyoming's plan achieves great reductions in visibility impairing emissions; it does so with less cost to ratepayers; it does so with cooperation among many affected parties; and, most importantly, Wyoming's plan achieves Congress's goal of restoring visibility in full compliance with the Clean Air Act and the Regional Haze Rule."
The Governor said the federal plan would cost $1.2 billion in up-front costs and an additional $170 million per year. "By forcing unnecessarily expensive technologies, electricity rates will rise even further, putting additional strain on businesses and millions of customers that receive electricity from the generating stations in Wyoming," Governor Mead wrote. He added that this could impact the economy and reduce jobs.
Governor Mead also said the EPA has disregarded cooperative federalism. This is the practice of federal agencies working with states and it is the history of Wyoming's partnership with the EPA in implementing the Clean Air Act. "There are numerous examples in Wyoming's history where positive outcomes have resulted when EPA and the state did not agree on a process or plan. In these instances of disagreement, Wyoming and EPA worked together to find a resolution and reach mutual agreement about moving forward," Governor Mead wrote. He expressed his concern that after submitting suggestions to the EPA last year the agency did not engage to resolve differences -- instead the EPA released a revised plan that is more onerous than last year's proposal.
"This approach is counter to Congress's design of the Clean Air Act and its specific directive for the regional haze program. Congress made clear that states have the primary responsibility for improving visibility, and that EPA must defer to state regional haze plans unless those plans do not comply with visibility program requirements. Wyoming's plan does fulfill regional haze program requirements," Governor Mead wrote.