EPA issues somewhat utility-friendly Wyoming haze rule

The Sierra Club on Jan. 10 threatened to sue – again – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over coal-fired emissions in Wyoming that are suspected to be a major contributor to regional haze.

EPA on Jan. 10 issued a final decision, ahead of that decision’s official publication in the Federal Register, on the regional haze program for Wyoming. Bill Corcoran, Western Regional Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said Jan. 10 in response: “Today’s decision by the EPA missed a golden opportunity to clean up Wyoming’s air and thereby protect public health. The decision is a significant and disappointing retreat from last year’s proposed rule, which would have provided stringent requirements to reduce dangerous pollution from a number of coal plants in the state. Instead, several coal plant units that were previously proposed for stringent cleanup will be allowed to operate with inferior pollution controls.’

Corcoran added: “PacifiCorp and other utilities launched an attack on EPA last year via their StopEPAwy.com website, criticizing EPA for daring to propose a rule that would have made tremendous progress in stopping the free ride on pollution that the coal industry has enjoyed. It is shameful to watch utilities hound the EPA into abandoning needed pollution reductions. The Sierra Club will review its legal opportunities to ensure that the safeguards of the Clean Air Act are realized and that the coal industry is held fully accountable for its pollution, which fouls our air and water and harms public health.”

EPA is partially approving and partially disapproving a State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the state of Wyoming in January 2011. EPA is approving several aspects of Wyoming’s regional haze SIP that it had proposed to disapprove in a June 2013 proposed rule in light of public comments and newly available information indicating the adequacy of the SIP with respect to those areas. EPA is also approving some aspects of the state’s SIP that it proposed to approve.

EPA is also promulgating a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to address some of the deficiencies identified in its proposed partial disapproval of Wyoming’s regional haze SIP issued in June 2013.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, environmental groups had sued EPA for its failure to take timely action with respect to regional haze requirements. In particular, the lawsuit alleged that EPA had failed to promulgate FIPs for these requirements within the two-year period allowed by Clean Air Act (CAA) section 110(c) or, in the alternative, fully approve SIPs addressing these requirements. Under a consent decree to settle that case, EPA had until Jan. 10 to issue this rulemaking.

For the fifteen coal fired power plant units in Wyoming subject to the regional haze requirements, EPA is approving the state’s NOx emission control technology decisions for 10 of those units. It also approving the state’s plan for the non-power plant facilities subject to regional haze requirements and the state’s plan for control of particulate matter (PM). It is approving all aspects of Wyoming’s SIP, except for creation elements, including the state’s NOx BART determinations for PacifiCorp’s coal-fired Dave Johnston Unit 3, PacifiCorp’s coal-fired Wyodak Unit 1, and Basin Electric’s coal-fired Laramie River Units 1, 2, and 3.

The final FIP has elements including NOx best available retrofit technology (BART) determinations and emission limits for PacifiCorp Dave Johnston Unit 3, Wyodak Unit 1, and Basin Electric Laramie River Units 1, 2, and 3.

The new NOx controls mandated by unit under the FIP are:

  • Dave Johnston Unit 3, new low NOx burners (LNB) with overfire air (OFA) and a shutdown in 2027, or new LNBs, OFA and selective catalytic reduction (SCR);
  • Laramie River Unit 1, new LNBs, OFA and SCR;
  • Laramie River Unit 2, new LNBs and OFA;
  • Laramie River Unit 3, new LNBs, OFA and SCR;
  • Wyodak Unit 1, LNBs, OFA and SCR.

EPA revised cost estimates based on industry input

EPA revised the cost analyses from those in the proposed rule based upon input from various commenters. Some of factors that caused it to revise those cost estimates included accounting for site elevation in the SCR capital cost, change in SCR reagent to anhydrous ammonia from urea, change in auxiliary electrical cost from market price to generating cost, change in urea selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) chemical utilization for some units due to high furnace temperatures, and consideration of shorter plant lifetimes in some instances. In addition, EPA incorporated some of the costs provided by commenters in their site specific cost estimates where the agency found those costs to be sufficiently supported.

For example, EPA said about the Dave Johnston Unit 3 decision: “We proposed to require PacifiCorp Dave Johnston Unit 3 to meet a FIP emission limit of 0.07 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average) for NOx BART (assumes the installation of LNBs/OFA plus SCR). Based on our revised costs of compliance and visibility impacts, we would still conclude that NOx BART is an emission limit of 0.07 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average). PacifiCorp submitted comments on our proposed rulemaking on August 26, 2013. In those comments, PacifiCorp indicated in various places (e.g., page 37) that instead of installing SCR, it would shut down Dave Johnston Unit 3 in 2027. Our regulatory language now provides PacifiCorp two alternative paths to compliance with the FIP. The first path includes a requirement for Dave Johnston Unit 3 to cease operation by December 31, 2027. For this path, we are requiring Dave Johnston Unit 3 to meet a FIP limit of 0.28 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average) no later than five years after the date of our final action. This emission limit assumes the installation of LNBs/OFA. The second compliance path gives PacifiCorp the option to instead meet a 0.07 lb/MMBtu emission limit (assumes installation of SCR) within five years of our final action with no requirement for shut down.”

EPA noted how PacifiCorp proposed a coal-to-gas conversion at Naughton Unit 3 by 2018, which caused a change in the haze planning for this unit since the original planned requirement was for SCR installation on that unit. In July 2013, the state of Wyoming issued an air permit to PacifiCorp that reflects the conversion of Naughton Unit 3 to natural gas in June 2018.

As for Naughton Units 1 and 2, EPA said it believes that it was not unreasonable for the state to reject LNB/OFA + SCR as BART. Furthermore, it said it cannot say the state acted unreasonably in rejecting LNB/OFA + SNCR at Units 1 and 2 because the incremental visibility improvement of SNCR over LNB/OFA, while possibly appreciable, is very low. Therefore, EPA believes that the state’s determination that LNB/OFA is NOx BART for Units 1 and 2, with an emission limit of 0.28 lbs/MMBtu, was ultimately reasonable and is approving it accordingly.

EPA in the Jan. 10 action is finalizing its approval of the state’s determination to require SCR at Jim Bridger Units 1-4, with an emission limit of 0.07 lb/MMBtu (30-day rolling average). It is also finalizing its approval of the compliance dates of Dec. 31, 2022, Dec. 31, 2021, Dec. 31, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2016 for Units 1-4 respectively. These coal-fired units are co-owned by PacifiCorp and Idaho Power.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.