As he has done with hydraulic fracturing and other environmental regulatory issues, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead Tuesday urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to defer to his state in regulating regional haze, which ties directly to the state's oil, natural gas and power generation industries. Mead wrote to EPA's air quality program director to head off the mandate of a federal implementation plan (FIP).

Like other states, Wyoming contends that EPA's regional haze rule as part of the Clean Air Act was intended to allow state's to take the regulatory lead on haze issues. However, EPA earlier rejected Wyoming's state implementation plan (SIP), requiring the FIP be used, which Mead has argued would be more costly without providing any apparent benefits over the SIP.

"EPA's disapproval of part of Wyoming's SIP would result in extra supplemental controls on seven electric generating units with no perceptible improvement in visibility," a spokesperson for the governor said.

In his letter to EPA's Carl Daly, air quality program chief, Mead said smoke from wildfires is the greatest source of haze in Wyoming. "Fires -- especially in light of beetle-killed forests and drought-stricken brush -- are inevitable," he said. Wyoming's SIP has provided "reasonable assurances" for reducing haze from industrial sources in the state.

"I ask that the proposed [federal] rule be rejected," Mead wrote. "The increased capital cost to the combined Wyoming units will cost $77 million more under the federal plan than under the state's plan." He said the projected added costs do not consider the administrative burden and costs of maintaining what he considers are essentially dual processes.

"Costs will be passed on to Wyoming ratepayers, and there will not be perceptible change in visibility. The main haze producer -- fire -- is not addressed."

©Copyright 2012 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.