Governor Mark Gordon has issued a statement criticizing an announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which proposed to disapprove of Wyoming’s revised regional haze State Implementation Plan (SIP) at the Jim Bridger Power Plant.

"While not completely unexpected, EPA’s decision to disapprove the revised State Implementation Plan is a disappointing reflection of a federal agency acting in bad faith," Gordon said. "EPA’s backtracking and subsequent refusal to adopt an agreement previously approved by the regional office and EPA headquarters could impact the loyal workforce of the Jim Bridger Power Plant and coal mine. The suspension order I signed on December 27 gives all the parties four months to find a solution to prevent the shutdown of Unit 2.  I am committed to protecting those jobs and workers."

A press release by the EPA states that Wyoming’s SIP revision would weaken the requirement to install emissions controls at the Jim Bridger units 1 and 2 and that emissions from the plant impact many national parks in Wyoming.

KC Becker, EPA Regional Administrator, said:

"After thorough review and extensive efforts to work with the State, EPA is proposing to determine that Wyoming’s plan to remove and weaken current pollution control requirements in place for the Jim Bridger plant is inconsistent with the Clean Air Act," Becker said. "While we look forward to public comment and continued opportunities for engagement, our evaluation of information provided to date indicates the State’s revision to its 2014 regional haze plan is a step backward for visibility in our parks, wilderness areas, and communities."

According to the EPA, Wyoming’s revised regional haze plan doesn't justify reversing the state’s 2011 decision showing that it's necessary to install Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) pollution control systems at Jim Bridger Units 1 and 2 to decrease air pollutants.

In 2014, EPA approved Wyoming’s decision to require SCR systems on Units 1 and 2 of the Jim Bridger power plant by December 31, 2022, and December 31, 2021.

While SCR systems have been installed on Units 3 and 4 at the Jim Bridger power plant, Gordon said installing the system on the other two units would be too expensive.

In the pre-publication countering the state's haze plan, the EPA states the cost to having the SCR systems, along with two other pollutant regulation systems, would be $14,692,000 per year for Unit 1 and $14,599,000 per year for Unit 2.

The installation of the extra SCR system would reduce the nitrous oxide output of the units from .15 pounds per million BTUs down to .05 pounds per million BTUs.

According to the EPA, air quality staff engaged with Wyoming throughout the evaluation of the revised plan and communicated concerns and opportunities for improvement.

On Dec. 27, Gordon signed a Temporary Emergency Suspension Order that allowed Unit 2 of the plant to continue operating for at least four months, in spite of not having installed an SCR system.

However, in that order, Gordon states that based on federal regulations, because the agency didn't respond to the revised plan within 12 months, he has the authority to issue an emergency declaration preventing the plant from closing.

The proposed disapproval is expected to be published in the Federal Register on or around Jan. 18, followed by a 30-day comment period.

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