“I’m not sure compliance for us will be difficult,”—Michael Teague
While the Environmental Protection Agency announced this week its controversial carbon control rules aimed against coal-fired power plants, it appears Oklahoma’s rules won’t be drawn up for at least another year. That’s according to Michael Teague, the Oklahoma Secretary of Environment.
“I think it’ll be at least a year,” he told OkEnergyToday. “We have 120 days from the end of this month to submit our comments back to the EPA on this rule because it’s only a proposal right now.” The rules will eventually be created by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
Till then, the state’s utililty companies that own coal-fired power plants have more preparation time. “What they want is, they wanta know what the rules are,” explained Teague. “Get all the rules out there so they know, they can make a business decision.”
As for the controversy over the rules, Teague has confidence in what the EPA is proposing. “I don’t think any of these rules really caught utilities off guard. I think they’re all looking pretty far forward. So I’m not sure compliance for us will be difficult.”
Teague said the utilities met last fall with regional EPA administrators and discussed what the EPA was proposing in seeking cleaner air. “The phrase that came out of that meeting last fall,” said Teague, “was don’t push us off the cliff—give us time to implement these rules and you can imagine, the shorter the time to implement, the higher the costs will be.” That was the message sent by Oklahoma utilities to the EPA. Now those companies have until 2030 to attain the goals created under the proposed new rules.
Questioned about claims by State Attorney General Scott Pruitt who calls the rules ‘overreach’ by the EPA, Teague responded, “I don’t disagree with that but I would also say that’s not our role. The Attorney General’s rule is to determine whether the rules are legal and what that standing is.”
As for higher electricity rates, Teague isn’t so sure it will occur. But he promised to protect consumers. “We’re absolutely committed to make sure we keep reliable power to all Oklahomans, absolutely committed to make sure we protect our consumers and it’s all to our benefit that we increase the use of Oklahoma’s resources.”