Following several years of deliberation and more than a year after ruling in favor of the state of North Dakota and Minnkota Power Cooperative, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reopening its consideration of a decision regarding regional haze.
The decision means Minnkota, our cooperative’s power supplier, could face a significant increase in its costs to meet environmental requirements that may not even improve the environment.
The National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club last year petitioned the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for review of the EPA’s regional haze determination for the state of North Dakota as well as requested the EPA to reconsider the ruling.
Then, on March 15 this year, the EPA published its notice in the Federal Register to reconsider approval of the state’s Best Available Retrofit Technology emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) for Units 1 and 2 of Minnkota’s Milton R. Young Station, a coal-fired plant located near Center, N.D., which provides the majority of the electricity for Cass County Electric Cooperative and Minnkota.
The reconsideration relates to the EPA’s approval of the portion of North Dakota’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) that allows for Over-Fire Air (OFA)+Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) technology to be used for NOx reduction at the Young Station in complying with the Regional Haze Rule.
The reconsideration also pertains to Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Leland Olds Station Unit 2.
A December 2011 court ruling weighed heavily in the EPA’s decision to approve the SIP. In that case, a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the state of North Dakota in a dispute resolution process under the consent decree for what is Best Available Control Technology (BACT) at the Young Station.
Based on a voluminous five-year public record on the issue, we at Cass County Electric Cooperative believe the EPA should stick with its original decision. It avoids the installation of $500 million of equipment that has not been proven to work effectively at the Young Station and would not provide a perceptible environmental benefit. Installing Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology would prompt a 20 to 30 percent rate increase for Minnkota cooperatives.
A public hearing on the reconsideration of North Dakota’s regional haze plan will be held May 15 at the North Dakota Department of Health Environmental Training Center in Bismarck. Times are 3-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
“We believe the EPA made a sound decision in March 2012 when it properly identified the right technology for the Young Station,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president & CEO. “It was the right thing for North Dakota and the consumer.”
Comments on the issue must be received on or before June 17. A listing of the ways in which you can submit comments is included in this issue. Please consider taking a moment to call or write the EPA and let them know the SIP is the correct decision for Cass County Electric Cooperative, Minnkota, the state of North Dakota and consumers in Minnesota and North Dakota.
The EPA and other agencies have been monitoring visibility in national parks and wilderness areas since 1988. In 1999, the EPA announced a major effort to improve air quality in those areas. The Regional Haze Rule calls for state and federal agencies to work together to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the state’s congressional delegation were pleased with the March 2012 ruling by the EPA. Rather than a costly federal plan ($500 million for Minnkota alone), the agreement provides North Dakota with flexibility to implement sensible and cost-effective standards for improving visibility in selected areas of the state such as Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
We believe North Dakota’s delegation remains committed to affirming the state of North Dakota’s ability to manage its own implementation plan, citing the state’s longstanding commitment to meeting all Clean Air Act requirements, and significant progress the state has already made in reducing regional haze.
On the day of the March 2012 ruling, North Dakota U.S. Sen. John Hoeven said: “North Dakota is one of 12 states to meet all federal ambient air quality standards. Our state has long demonstrated that we can promote strong economic growth and job creation, while doing a good job of protecting the air, land and water. While there is still more work to do, today’s decision by the EPA is a good step forward in recognizing our state’s ability to best manage our own resources.”
Since 2006, Minnkota has spent more than $425 million on emission control equipment at the Young Station.
SEND COMMENTS TO KEEP REGIONAL HAZE SIP FOR THE YOUNG STATION
If you want to send a comment to the EPA, come to our offices. We will deliver them to the EPA in person if there is a public hearing. If not, we will mail them to the EPA.
Or submit comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R08-OAR-2010-0406, by one of the following methods:
• Web: http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Fax: (303) 312-6064.
• Mail: Director, Air Program, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 8, Mailcode 8P-AR, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-1129.