EPA ruling a setback for coal plants?

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS - A spokesman for an environmentalist group says a ruling that greenhouse gases threaten the public health is bad news for an energy company seeking a permit to build a new coal-fired power plant in Arkansas, but the company says the permitting process won’t be affected.

The ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency puts the nation a step closer to federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. The regulation could come through action of the EPA or Congress.

“I can’t think of any way that today’s news is anything but bad news for the coal industry,” said Glen Hooks of the Sierra Club, which opposes the plant proposed by Southwestern Electric Power Co.

Shreveport, La.-based SWEPCO is seeking to build a $1.6 billion, 600-megawatt power plant in Hempstead County. A June ruling by the state Court of Appeals overturned the state Public Service Commission’s decision to approve a permit for the proposed John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant, and SWEPCO is now appealing that decision to the state Supreme Court.

The Appeals Court said the commission was required to consider all matters related to SWEPCO’s application in a single proceeding, but instead it considered several related issues in separate proceedings.

Scott McCloud, spokesman for SWEPCO parent company American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio, said the ruling by the EPA will have no immediate impact on the permitting process for the Turk plant because the ruling is only a step toward future regulation and does not trigger any immediate caps on emissions.

“EPA’s action isn’t a surprise. We’ve been expecting it,” McCloud said.


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