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Clean Air Victory: Federal Court Upholds Plan to Reduce OG&E Haze Pollution

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Friday, July 19, 2013
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Jenna Garland, Sierra Club, (404) 607-1262 x 222, jenna.garland@sierraclub.org
Whitney Pearson, Sierra Club, (405) 826-0241, whitney.pearson@sierraclub.org

DENVER, CO - In a major victory for clear skies and healthy air in Oklahoma, the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today in favor of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and clean air advocates by upholding the Agency’s plan to reduce haze pollution coming from coal-fired power plants run by OG&E.

“Today the court has upheld a common-sense solution to a serious pollution problem,” said Whitney Pearson, with Sierra Club. “Both in Oklahoma and around the nation, we see smart utilities showing leadership and making the right choices for our pocketbooks and our health. Now we have another signal that OG&E needs to make these smart choices too.”

OG&E’s coal plants in Ft. Gibson and Red Rock are two of the state’s largest sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, yet OG&E’s executives have resisted cleaning up these coal-fired power plants, even though Oklahoma has abundant wind energy resources. The Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) announced in early 2011 that it would gradually phase out coal use at its Northeastern coal-fired power plant in Oologah in order to reduce its haze-forming sulfur dioxide pollution.

EPA’s regional haze plan for Oklahoma gives OG&E the option to install new scrubber technology to limit emissions or retire their coal plants and convert to cleaner energy sources in order to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. Sulfur dioxide pollution triggers asthma attacks, and causes airway constriction and other respiratory problems. Exposure to sulfur dioxide pollution for even five minutes can make it hard for a person to breathe and high levels of sulfur dioxide can send people to the emergency room.

“OG&E sends hundreds of millions of dollars out of state each year to import coal and the pollution that comes with it. For a state with abundant, homegrown natural resources, this makes no sense,” said David Ocamb, director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Court upheld the law and acted in Oklahoma’s best interests when OG&E wouldn’t. It’s time for OG&E to do what’s right and phase out their coal plants. ”

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About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

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