The U.S. Justice Department filed enforcement actions against two coal-fired power plants operated by Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) arguing that OG&E increased the output of coal-fired boilers at the plants without installing modern pollution protections. The Department of Justice filed the cases against OG&E on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the New Source Review, or NSR, provisions of the Clean Air Act for modifying and operating the Sooner Power Plant and the Muskogee Power Plant without first installing modern pollution control technology like scrubbers and catalysts. Pollution from the OG&E coal plants contributes to unhealthy smog in cities downwind of the plants and hazy skies in parks and wilderness areas. Scrubbers and catalysts are required to greatly reduce emissions and clean up the air in the region.
“We are glad that the Justice Department has stepped up to enforce clean air protections here in Oklahoma,” said Whitney Pearson an Organizer with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “There is no longer any excuse for OG&E to hide from their responsibility. It’s time they retire their old, dirty coal plants and begin investing in smart twenty first century energy solutions. Wind power has already created thousands of jobs right here in Oklahoma and there’s plenty more where that came from. We should stop importing coal from Wyoming mines 1,000 miles away and instead invest in Oklahoma’s future.”
But OG&E had another viewpoint. “First and foremost, we believe that we are in compliance with all state and federal requirements, and we intend to vigorously defend our position,” said spokesman Brian Alford. “We followed procedures, and actual monitored data indicates that emissions did not increase as a result of the work performed.”