Dakota lawmakers: EPA decision in Wyoming will raise energy prices

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) joined Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in sending a letter Thursday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

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“This decision is concerning and could potentially be very costly to ratepayers across the region, including approximately 700,000 South Dakotans and North Dakotans, many of them living in rural areas in our states,” the letter stated. “The EPA plan is an expense that would inevitably affect power consumers during a time when our economy is already suffering. This makes little sense in light of effective and less expensive alternatives.”

The EPA required Wyoming to create a plan to reduce haze and nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels in the air. The EPA disapproved part of the state’s plan and issued a requirement to Wyoming power plants that they install haze reduction technologies on their units. The lawmakers said that change could cost the power plants more than $1 billion, which would be passed on to consumers.

“The state of Wyoming’s plan adequately addresses regional haze and visibility issues at a reasonable cost, yet the EPA is now circumventing the state and trying to mandate unnecessary technology that is estimated to cost more than $1 billion in capital costs and millions of dollars more in annual operating costs,” Thune said Thursday. “South Dakota ratepayers will be left footing the bill for higher electricity rates with no noticeable improvement in visibility.”

The lawmakers said the EPA’s more expensive plan wouldn’t actually reduce emissions anymore than the less expensive plan Wyoming came up with. They asked the EPA to revisit the decision.

The EPA is requiring Wyoming power plants to reduce regional haze in order to improve air quality.