Wyoming’s revised plan for Jim Bridger power plant does not justify reversal of current approved plan to reduce 3,000+ tons per year of emissions and protect regional air quality
January 12, 2022
Cheyenne, Wyo. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed to disapprove the State of Wyoming’s revised regional haze State Implementation Plan to address haze-forming emissions from the Jim Bridger power plant, Units 1 and 2, in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Wyoming’s SIP revision would weaken existing requirements, which have been in place since 2014, to install and operate emissions controls at the Jim Bridger units beginning this year. Emissions from the Jim Bridger power plant affect visibility in western National Parks and Wilderness Areas protected as “Class I Areas” under the Clean Air Act. EPA’s proposed action will be subject to a 30-day public comment period beginning with the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register next week.
The Clean Air Act requires states to submit enforceable plans to address regional haze and reduce harmful emissions from sources of pollution, including power plants, to improve visibility conditions in Class I Areas, which include some of the nation’s most visited and treasured national parks and wilderness areas. Areas most impacted by emissions from the Jim Bridger plant include Grand Teton National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Bridger Wilderness Area, the Fitzpatrick Wilderness Area, the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, the Washakie Wilderness Area, the Rawah Wilderness Area, and the Teton Wilderness Area.
“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,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “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.”
EPA has found that Wyoming’s revised regional haze plan fails to justify reversing the State’s 2011 determination that the installation of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) pollution control systems at Jim Bridger Units 1 and 2 is necessary under the Clean Air Act to make reasonable progress toward natural visibility conditions in Class I Areas. EPA is taking comment on this finding. SCR has been widely installed at power plants across the nation to effectively reduce pollutant emissions.
In 2014, EPA approved Wyoming’s decision to require SCR in the State’s regional haze plan, which requires the installation of SCR systems on Units 1 and 2 of the Jim Bridger power plant by December 31, 2022, and December 31, 2021, respectively. Collectively, these controls would achieve nitrogen oxide reductions of more than 3,000 tons per year based on the plant’s current operation. To date, Jim Bridger’s operator, PacifiCorp, has not installed SCR on either unit. While PacifiCorp has publicly indicated its intent to convert Jim Bridger Units 1 and 2 from coal to natural gas in 2024, the company’s intentions are not part of Wyoming’s proposed revisions to its regional haze plan thereby precluding the planned conversion from EPA consideration and analysis.
EPA received the revised plan submitted by Wyoming in May of 2020. The Agency’s air quality staff engaged extensively with the State throughout the evaluation of the revised plan and clearly communicated concerns and opportunities for improvement. EPA has completed its review and is proposing to disapprove the State’s revision, which has not changed substantively since its initial submission.
If finalized, EPA’s proposed action to disapprove the State’s revised plan will require PacifiCorp to adhere to the requirements of the existing regional haze plan, which has been in place since 2014, absent an approvable plan revision from the State. EPA recognizes that PacifiCorp’s plans for the operation of the Jim Bridger plant have changed since the Agency approved Wyoming’s regional haze determination for the plant in 2014. EPA has been and remains open to finalizing a new plan, consistent with the Clean Air Act, that addresses current circumstances while protecting Wyoming’s environment, its workers, and its communities.
EPA is requesting public comment on its proposed disapproval for 30-day period beginning with the date of publication in the Federal Register, which is expected on or around January 18, 2022. Comments can be made through www.regulations.gov under the docket ID #: EPA-R08-OAR-2020-0441
For more information, including EPA’s proposed rule, visit:
For more on visibility, regional haze and the Clean Air Act visit: https://www.epa.gov/visibility