JACKSON — Commissioner Leonard Bentz has authorized the Mississippi Public Service Commission legal staff to take immediate action against the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, asking the PSC legal staff to file for immediate legal relief before the EPA and the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia no later than Oct. 7.
Bentz also instructed staff to work with all stakeholders, including all public utilities, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and other states
“One way or another, this latest, unrealistic move by the EPA imposes significant financial costs onto the customer through their utility bill each month, or causes their electricity to be unreliable. Either is unacceptable, and I am adamantly opposed.” Bentz added.
In July, the EPA issued the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which will require Mississippi utility companies to limit their nitric oxide (NOx) emissions even further and even sooner, or face possible criminal penalties if the companies violate the rule knowingly or willingly. Under the new rule, Mississippi utility companies must now reduce their emission by May 2012, moved up from 2014.
Options for the utilities include reducing emissions by upgrading equipment, purchasing credits or shutting down electric generating plants completely.
“Companies can install new and expensive controls that reduce emissions a little, but even if this were implemented, new equipment can’t even be built in that timeframe because the deadline have been moved up,” Bentz added.
“Another unworkable option allowed by the EPA, is buying allowances or ‘credits’ on the market from other states. However, most states have had their allowances reduced and there are no allowances to purchase,” Bentz said. “The numbers don’t even remotely add up. The EPA’s fact finding is limited at best.”
If neither option is available, the utility would have to shut down that power generating plant. Electricity would have to be bought from other sources, causing possible periodic outages due to unreliability.
The EPA estimates that the proposed rule will cost about $800 million annually plus an additional $1.6 billion per year for new equipment.
“If utility companies can’t take on the burden that this rule places on them, plants will shut down and the customer loses, and that is detrimental,” Bentz said.