Governor Matt Mead is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to rush public comments on its proposed Regional Haze Plan. On June 10th the EPA announced it was revising its proposal regarding regional haze. The federal action would include denying part of Wyoming's plan to improve viewsheds and replacing it with a federal plan. Initial estimates are that the EPA's proposal would significantly increase costs for Wyoming utilities - a cost that would be passed on to consumers.
The EPA is proposing to hold a public hearing on June 24th and close the public comment period in 60 days.
"A rushed hearing is like no hearing at all because the State and others will not have a meaningful opportunity to participate with such short notice," Governor Mead wrote to the EPA. The Governor asks that the EPA hold two public hearings in Wyoming instead of one and give the public an extra 60 days to prepare for the first hearing. He also proposes extending the public comment period to 60 days after the final public hearing.
Governor Mead expressed concern that the EPA has had conversations with individuals and groups about the costs of emissions controls for many months. "Wyoming, the State most affected by those conversations, has not been contacted and has only weeks to review a radically new proposal that could conceivably result in significant utility rate increases, possible layoffs or even plant closures."
The EPA's proposal would require new and different emissions controls for a number of Wyoming facilities. This would cost hundreds of millions of dollars above the costs associated with the plan put forward by Wyoming, which is both federally compliant and sensible. Wyoming's plan accomplishes the goal to improve viewsheds and does so by the compliance date.
"We need to be good stewards of the environment, and at the same time we need to balance economic impacts against negligible visibility improvement. EPA's latest proposal, which will profoundly affect Wyoming and surrounding states, needs to be fully reviewed, aired and commented upon -- not hurried," Governor Mead wrote.