U.S. Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced Feb. 10 that the Environmental Protection Agency has reaffirmed the agency’s approval of the North Dakota Department of Health’s State Implementation Plan for Regional Haze.
Hoeven said he has been pushing the EPA since he was governor to accept the state’s plan rather than forcing a more costly one-size-fits-all federal plan.
“We have worked virtually for years to arrive at this decision, which is good news not only for the state’s coal industry and the people who work in it, but for North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “It means the industry can continue to provide affordable energy to our state and our region with good environmental stewardship.”
This rulemaking comes in response to a petition by Earth Justice challenging the state’s best available retrofit technology (BART) controls for NOx emissions at three coal-fired units. The EPA said it has considered all timely significant comments and determined that the state’s implementation plan for regional haze meets all necessary environmental requirements for good stewardship. The three affected units are Milton R. Young Station Units 1 and 2, and Leland Olds Station Unit 2.
U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a Feb. 10 statement: “Time and time again, I have pressed the EPA to avoid one-size-fits-all policies that set the same standards for North Dakota as they do for New York. Those types of policies just don’t make sense. North Dakota set up its own proposal to address the regional haze emitted by our utilities and today, the EPA finally listened and approved the initial plan so our state can determine the policies that make the most sense for us. As we move forward, I’ll continue to push on the EPA to fully approve North Dakota’s plan so we can support the utilities in the state that turn on our lights and heat our homes.”
Heitkamp, who has more than a decade of experience working as a Director for Dakota Gasification, which runs a gasification plant in North Dakota that uses locally-mined lignite as its feedstock, has repeatedly fought what she calls unworkable proposals that would take coal out of the energy mix. In February 2013, Heitkamp brought EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to North Dakota to hear firsthand about how the EPA’s proposed policies on coal-fired power plants would hurt North Dakota.