EPA sues Oklahoma utility for obeying the law

Guest post by David Middleton

Just when you think that the EPA cannot possibly get any more idiotic…

U.S. EPA sues OG&E over work at Oklahoma coal power plants

Tue Jul 9, 2013

(Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sued Oklahoma Gas and Electric for failure to follow procedures required by the Clean Air Act while upgrading two coal plants in the state.

The EPA said in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on Monday that OG&E, a unit of OGE Energy Corp, failed to estimate emissions resulting from construction projects between 2003 and 2006 at its facilities.

The Clean Air Act requires regulated facilities to anticipate emissions increases that would result from physical changes, so that, if required, a utility can take steps to prevent them, according to the complaint.

OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said the company believed it had been and still was in compliance with all state and federal requirements.

“We intend to vigorously defend our position, which is that we followed procedures,” he said, “and actual monitored data indicates that emissions did not increase as a result of the work that was done.”

[…]

Shares of OGE were up 1.5 percent at $35.07 in morning trading.

Reuters

The EPA claims that OG&E failed to estimate emissions that did not occur. They are suing OG&E in an effort to force the company “to assess whether its projects were likely to result in a significant [GHG] emissions increase.”

The EPA had no authority to regulate GHG emissions when the work was done (2003 & 2006). The work (on boilers and turbine blade replacements) caused no emissions increase.

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This is how politics occurs in totalitarian states – companies abused and bullied at the whim of politicians.
What happens next is you get a third world economy. When a third world company is threatened by the competition, instead of cutting prices or improving services, they call in political favours to have the competition shut down.
The effect this abuse has on the quality of services and goods received by the consumer, and the prices they pay, I leave to your imagination.

GlynnMhor

If there is a bright side to this, it might be that such absurd excesses will create a backlash against the oppression.

Steve

“First, you show up and crucify the first young men you see, to make an example.”

Meh.
Court judgements don’t mean much; look at the NLRB member who was found to be seated to the board illegally (as determined by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit):
http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/labor/300273-court-rules-against-nlrb-recess-appointment
.

The EPA is going to frivolous lawsuit our power companies to death. Until the price of energy is skyhigh, and our companies and families are suffering dreadfully. And our economy retrenches.
“A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States.” -John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar

jorgekafkazar

Fascism.

Justthinkin

“If there is a bright side to this, it might be that such absurd excesses will create a backlash against the oppression.”
Unfortunately.Glynn,you are wrong.Sheeples will just keep paying the corrupt politicos to carry on.
When some clown shows up on my door step,and tells me I can’t grow my carrots because they are not “properly” spaced,well. I’ll leave it at that.

Jack

Not a lawyer but there is a provision in law that you cannot break one if it is impossible to follow. The greens did that with the Vegetation Management Act in Australia, where they could redraw vegetation maps without notifying the land owner.
Seems a similar case.

Andrew

If this complaint originated with the Oklahoma Dept. of Environmental Quality, I’m not surprized at all. ODEQ is a very troublesome and radical organization in my experience. They pulled this crap on me at the natural gas plant where I work. In our case, they (ODEQ) actually signed off on documents specifically stating that our plant was not subject to a certain set of regulations (subpart KKK), then 3 years later they came in and tried to levy a heap of fines on us for not complying with it. Even after we produced the documents with their head honcho’s signature on it, they still pursued the punishment. We did not back down, and ultimately wound up in some heated meetings, until they finally backed down, althought they still act like they are doing you a favor by letting you off the hook. Pompous a-holes they are, and intimidation is their go-to tactic.

wayne

The slate must be cleared, no other way, E.P.A. purged.

hunter

Retroactive prosecution of Coal is simply another front in the President’s war on American and its energy, one utilizing time travel.

Janice Moore

Is it mere coincidence that this clearly groundless, harassment, lawsuit follows a senator (Jim Inhofe) from Oklahoma’s recent, severe, criticism of the Puppet-in-Chief? I don’t think so.
May 9, 2013 — Inhofe speaks bluntly about Dopebama and Benghazi homicides
[Source: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/299009-inhofe-obama-could-be-impeached-over-benghazi%5D
June 27, 2013 — Inhofe criticizes Dopebama’s control-the-climate speech
“The future laid out by the president is one of economic stagnation, high unemployment, and an uncompetitive and uncertain economy. We need jobs, not more fanciful posturing and politics.”
[Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/06/27/obama-climate-change-sen-inhofe-editorials-debates/2465939/%5D
PAY BACK.
The fact that the EPA case is laughably weak indicates: 1) they were in a hurry to get it done to “get him;” and/or 2) it is just what it appears to be, frivolous. Likely to be thrown out on 12(b)(6) Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (…. unless they get a crooked judge….), but, the EPA won’t care; harassment accomplished. Disgusting.

Latitude

retroactively breaking the law………………

Bill H

I wish we could do to the people (Obama and his EPA) as those in Boston did when the king was forcefully unloading tea (with a heavy British tax attached) in Boston harbor. A tar and feathering seems to be in order..

Hopefully one day soon the contractors and power companies will say enough it enough and go explain how the world works to Obama and the EPA – both legally and politically. Time to “transfer” some EPA staff to the private sector. It’s been done before in Canada and Britain and from what I know, it can happen in the US but perhaps it is more difficult.

Bill H

I hope the defense asks for total reimbursement of funds to defend this frivolous law suit and have the court issue an injunction which bars them from any further filings.

Time for Congress to withdraw funding from the EPA – anything less is a betrayal of the people who voted for them.

Luther Wu

There have been some number of recent opinion pieces in local OKC papers by enviro- types telling us that we need to switch to “affordable” wind power, etc.
After the state’s recent thrashing by tornadoes, there were quite a few opinions expressed in left- wing columns on the web in which the lefties were universally saying that those who suffered from the storms should be denied aid and they also called for shutting down OK military bases and other methods of depriving the state of federal monies, to teach us a lesson (because of the State’s conservative representation/opinions in Washington.)
The activists have us in their sights. Not only did they freely expressed their sentiments around the web (it sure looked like they all got the same memo,) it appears that their demands have now filtered over into the enforcement arm of the New Master Party.

jeanparisot

OG&E should just refuse to supply the local EPA office or its employee’s with power.

u.k.(us)

David Middleton says:
July 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm
“Note that I made an assumption that this dealt with GHG emissions. The article doesn’t state this.”
==================
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
They set the game up that way, as best as they could.
Don’t feel bad, they are pro’s.
It was a set-up, logic and/or financial responsibility never entered into their thinking.

JamesD

Time to secede. If only Randy Brogden had won.

Very likely part of the New Source Review EO that Clinton signed on his way out the door and Bush was too chicken to cancel. It’s also one of he reasons older plants do not do major upgrades. Also, the incident of fining the company for failure to anticipate emissions that didn’t happen is typical. The EPA has long sought to penalize companies and has in a number of regions for several decades attempted to rewrite regulations through compliance actions. I went through that 20 years ago with the BIF rule. EPA staff can admit to perjury and commit perjury in front of an Administrative Law Judge without any penalty.
The commenters who acted surprised shouldn’t be. Being bullied by environmental agencies is nothing new. About a third of the regulators are little no nothing tyrants. Just wait until you sit in the EPSA office of regulator who is costing your company an extra million bucks a year and smile while you wait for her to finish up conducting her real estate business.

We’ve got to get more news outlets paying attention. What the people know about the people can object to, although by the sound of it, the EPA is becoming clearly seen for what it is. New political parties are needed, too.

OG&E should send a circular letter to their customers, advising them of a 100% cut in CO2 emissions, commencing on August 11, 2013; resulting in a reduction in generating capacity from a peak of 6100 MW to whatever the wind provides; perhaps 170MW; but mostly about 20MW.
If customers can’t make the 97 to 99% cut in their electricity requirements, they should contact their local Congress-critters, Senators and State government representatives to put the EPA back into their padded cells.
Failing a withdrawal of the law suit by the EPA; OG&E senior management will be cashing in the “offsets” on CO2 emissions “avoided” by that measure.

Darren Potter

Bob: “Just wait until you sit in the EPSA office of regulator who is costing your company an extra million bucks a year and smile while you wait for her to finish up conducting her real estate business.”
Sounds like personal use of Government resources, and for a Whistle Blower.

u.k.(us)

When you open a thread asking for search help, then must close same thread within an hour, due to a flood of the correct answers, you just might be on to something.

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead

Eric Worrall says:
July 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm
This is how politics occurs in totalitarian states – companies abused and bullied at the whim of politicians.
….except that these are not politicians. These are faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats flexing their whims, with a powerful mandate CREATED by politicians.

J. Sperry

David Middleton says:
July 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm
“Note that I made an assumption that this dealt with GHG emissions. The article doesn’t state this.”
—–
It’s safe to say that the lawsuit is not about greenhouse gas emissions. The link below includes a copy of the complaint, and it references NOx, SO2, and PM (nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter), all typical pollution considerations for coal-fired plants.
http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/2013/07/08/the-epa-is-suing-oklahoma-gas-electric-over-its-power-plant-emission-estimates/

Phil M.

This is about the dumbest post I’ve ever seen on this blog. And that’s saying a lot.
Why does Mr. Middleton assume this has to do with GHG emissions? Mr. Middleton himself states that EPA had no authority to regulate them when the work was done. It took me about five seconds on Google to find out that the lawsuit is related to sulfur dioxide emissions: http://www.tulsaworld.com/article.aspx/Oklahoma_Gas_Electric_sued_by_EPA_over_projects_at/20130709_49_E1_Thefed212001
Is Mr. Middleton, or anyone on this blog, aware that coal-fired power plants are well-documented sources of all kinds of pollutants, including NOx, SOx and Hg?
Are the readers of this blog so disconnected from reality that they honestly believe the EPA files a lawsuit in Federal court simply to make a point?
The confused, rambling ideas blurted out on this blog are downright staggering sometimes.

Phil M. says:
July 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm
This is about the dumbest post I’ve ever seen on this blog.
===========
too true. you’ve managed to surpass yourself.

Outrageous Ampersand

This sort of thing can generally be describes as sucking royally.
However, look on the bright side. Physics tells us that gravity permeates the universe, and that if too much mass occupies too small a space, the force of gravity overcomes electron degeneracy pressure, forcing total collapse into a black hole.
After 200 odd years of growth, the federal government is rapidly reaching the point where it’s sheer mass overcomes it’s strength. Witness the IRS having no idea what underlings were doing, the NSA letting Snowden walk out, etc. It’s become so big that it can’t manage itself.
Eventually sheer mass will force it to collapse into a black hole. Now, as we know, anything within the vicinity of a black hole will get pulled inside as well, and while interesting from a scientific viewpoint, that sounds quite inconvenient.
Therefore, the only solution is to distance oneself as much as possible from the feds and let them collapse all on their own.

Chad Wozniak

@Janice Moore –
No, absotively posilutely NOT a coincidence, but retaliation to “punish your enemies,” as der Fuehrer is so fond of saying as he orders these atrocities upon the Constitution. And unfortunately, the courts cannot be trusted to protect people against them, as Supreme Court Chief Injustice John Roberts has so namby-pambily demonstrated in rulings regarding CO2 as a pollutant and the Unaffordable Care Act’s status as tax legislation. It’s gonna take state governments standing up to der Fuehrer and his satraps and saying, No you won’t, and being prepared to back that up with armed force. It may even take arming coal miners and workers at coal-fired plants to defend their workplaces when the EPA hatemongers come calling. After all, the Second Amendment gives them that right – and was adopted with the express purpose of enabling the people to resist oppressive government with all necessary force.
The EPA is a certifiable HATE GROUP, and it would be an appropriate action for the Oklahoma legislature and governor to enact a law so designating it. Who does the EPA hate and act out its hatred against? Businesspeople, citizens who use fossil fuel-generated electricity and drive motor vehicles, and people in general who believe in liberty and restraints on government behavior. If unrestrained, the EPA has the ability to wreak enormous destruction on the US economy and persecute any number of people,
In the Democratic Peoples Republic of Kalifornia (whose title shares its initials with those of the official name of North Korea, as well as indicating its general character nowadays) we have a similar, local HATE GROUP called the California Air Resources Board whose specialty is to attack anyone using diesel engines in their businesses and on their farms, based on a “study” that was proven to be without basis in fact and was “researched” by an impostor with fake credentials – CARB used the study KNOWING it was false and its author a charlatan.
Both of these agencies are hugely guilty of zillions of counts of conspiring to violate, and of violating, civil rights, and of extortion and racketeering, and most if not all of their functionaries rightfully ought to go to prison for long terms at hard labor. Even that’s too good for ’em.
@A.D. Everard – Wish it were so, but unfortunately, not enough people seem to recognize the threat from the EPA, and the CRL news media will cover up for and defend the hatemongers to their last breath

Dr. Bob

Seems to me there is a scene from Ghost Busters that is appropriate here. “Yes he has no…”

Also this scene is appropriate:

Luther Wu says:
July 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm
There have been some number of recent opinion pieces in local OKC papers by enviro- types telling us that we need to switch to “affordable” wind power, etc.
After the state’s recent thrashing by tornadoes, there were quite a few opinions
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
YOU MUST BE KIDDING! 300 foot tall cantilevered towers with propellors in tornado alley? What is the design air speed? Would they be insurable?

Mike McMillan

EPA is too detached from the real world. I suggest their headquarters and personnel be moved out into the heartland to give them a better perspective. Lenexa, Kansas would be a good choice.

Luther Wu

Phil M. says:
July 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm
“Are the readers of this blog so disconnected from reality that they honestly believe the EPA files a lawsuit in Federal court simply to make a point?”
_________________________
Are you talking about the EPA that declared CO2 a toxin, like Mercury or Arsenic?

Luther Wu

Wayne Delbeke says:
July 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm
YOU MUST BE KIDDING!
_____________________
Nope. There are large wind farms all over the place out here. Several years ago, the statae Corporation Commission (regulates the utilities) more or less forced OG&E to build wind farms for future development.

Chad Wozniak

@Luther Wu –
How many whooping cranes have been killed by those turbines? Some of them must be astraddle their migration route.

Phil M, listen up:
The EPA has morphed into a self-perpetuating bureaucracy that bases its decisions on politics and pseudo-science. It does nothing that the several States couldn’t do better, cheaper, and more efficiently.
The EPA was recently sued by a homeowner whose land was declared a “wetland” by a single EPA bureaucrat, for having a seasonal mud puddle on it. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the EPA lost.
When a government agency becomes as powerful and as out of control as the EPA, it needs to be completely abolished. The environment would do just fine without the EPA, which does not really care about snail darters and spotted owls, but instead loves the political power that comes from stomping on the little guy, and from extorting $millions from law-abiding businesses.
The EPA must go, and the sooner the better.

Chad Wozniak

@Latitude –
The Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws, i.e., outlawing past actions previously legal, and even more important, it also prohibits legislation by the executive branch, which is exactly what the EPA has done.
All of which is essentially irrelevant, however, so long as der Fuehrer and the EPA hate team consider themselves above any low.

pat

EPA are only acting out of concern for our future….LOL:
10 July: Guardian: Nafeez Ahmed: James Hansen: Fossil fuel addiction could trigger runaway global warming
Without full decarbonisation by 2030, our global emissions pathway guarantees new era of catastrophic climate change
The world is currently on course to exploit all its remaining fossil fuel resources, a prospect that would produce a “different, practically uninhabitable planet” by triggering a “low-end runaway greenhouse effect.” This is the conclusion of a new scientific paper by Prof James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the world’s best known climate scientist.
The paper due to be published later this month by Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A) focuses less on modelling than on empirical data about correlations between temperature, sea level and CO2 going back up to 66 million years…
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jul/10/james-hansen-fossil-fuels-runaway-global-warming

gallopingcamel

The USA would be much improved by the abolition of the EPA and the IRS.

Phil M. says:
July 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm
This is about the dumbest post I’ve ever seen on this blog. And that’s saying a lot.
The confused, rambling ideas blurted out on this blog are downright staggering sometimes.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
You are so correct as others have noted. Off to look at the locations of wind farms in OK. I am staggered. Well maybe not, we have a few in Southern Alberta that seem to be able to handle 100 mph winds – but they don’t produce anything and so far as I am aware none have fallen down but I can’t imagine them withstanding a full blown tornado. Guess we’ll see. Empirical evidence is always the best.

u.k.(us)

Phil M. says:
July 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm
“The confused, rambling ideas blurted out on this blog are downright staggering sometimes.”
============
Glad someone took notice, or it might be for naught.

CRS, DrPH

From the Tulsa World article:

The complaint comes less than two weeks after the Sierra Club presented modeling analysis of the Muskogee and Sooner plants that apparently showed they violated standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

I know OG&E well, they are a class act. However, they are also the target of some real radicals, including Sierra Club, numerous tribes & lefties in the Rockies. They don’t deserve this, they are good folks who do just what they are paid to do = produce electricity reliably and cost-effectively.

Janice Moore

@ Mike Bromley — glad you made it back safely from the Middle East, via Vienna!
@ Outrageous Ampersand — welcome (again) — good for you to keep on posting!) — small comfort, but, I kinda of think somebody in the D’oh!bama administration knew about what was going on at IRS and NSA….
@Chad Wozniak — except for the armed resistance (at this point, anyway — not enough of the general U.S. population is galvanized to back them up against superior military force at this time) — I agree completely.
Eric Worrall: Time for Congress to withdraw funding from the EPA.
D. B. Stealey (a.k.a. Smokey): … it needs to be completely abolished… .”
JM: You can say that again!
EW: Time for Congress to withdraw funding from the EPA.
DB: it needs to be completely abolished
Pat: EPA are only acting out of concern for our future….LOL
@Luther Wu — That is so SICK. I hope you can just turn off the TV, not read any news for awhile, take a nice long walk along a country lane, listen to the robins and the meadowlarks, and just plain enjoy Oooooh-k-lah-homa. A person can only take so much exposure to that kind of evil. Hang in there, buddy.
@Ferdburple — NICE —- SLAM —- DUNK!
(Hm. Now there are TWO “Phils” who say stupid stuff — Phil dot and Philm — AND there was a mean teen-ager called Phil who kicked my hoppity-hop out from under me when I was a little kid! Ooooo, I don’t like those Phils…. wait a minute… I had a super-wonderful professor whose name was Phil….. meh, that’s only 1 out of 4 Phils — …. don’t like Phils (JUST KIDDING, all you kind, wise, decent Phils out there!). LOL, now that you’ve seen “Phil” written over and over, it doesn’t look like any name I’ve ever heard of — it’s turning into the abbreviation for “Philosophy.” OKAY, I AM STOPPING, NOW!

Chad Wozniak

@pat –
A paper by Hansen “scientific”? I’d like to know what sort of viper oil-hash oil blend those people at the Royal Society are smoking, and where they got it so I can find some and use it to kill some cockroaches. /sarc

u.k.(us)

Phil M. says:
July 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm
“Are the readers of this blog so disconnected from reality……
==================
Disconnected is the wrong word, think out of the box.

Your EPA sounds like a Division of Greenpeace. Frankly there should be a criminal action brought if this case is dismissed as ‘frivilous”. In the UK we have an offence of “wasting police time” for those who bring frivilous charges. Great deterent.
You may be interested – especially as your Green loons are wanting to invest in more wind turbines (in tornado alley? That should be interesting!). The latest row in Germany is because a proposal to erect fifteen of the obscene things near Frankfurt Airport has been blocked. Because those big whirly blades interfere with the Air Traffic Radar. Of course, Greenpeace feels the airport should be shut down, but I think they need to check the Climate Report for Hell. There’s no Ice Age developing there …