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New haze-reduction plan shown by EPA

Jan 13, 2014 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday released what it described as its final version of a plan to reduce atmospheric haze by cutting emissions from Wyoming coal-fired power plants.

The plan will improve visibility across wide-open spaces while protecting natural resources and local economies which depend on recreation, the EPA said in a prepared statement.

The 714-page document said it adopts most of a separate plan proposed by Wyoming environmental regulators.

Development of the federal plan has been contentious. State officials including Gov. Matt Mead criticized an earlier version released in June as unnecessarily expensive, costing utilities $1 billion up front and $100 million a year after that.

Mead said utility customers would absorb many of those costs. Even so, he testified at an EPA hearing, the EPA plan would do little more than the state plan to reduce atmospheric haze.

He also described the plan as targeting the coal industry. Wyoming produces close to 40 percent of the nation's coal, far more than any other state.

Mead will review the new document carefully and but still thinks the EPA plan is unwarranted because Wyoming already has a strong plan, Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said by email.

The governor will "evaluate Wyoming's options going forward," MacKay wrote.

Environmental groups praised the EPA plan for requiring tougher emissions but criticized the EPA for what they said is a step backward from what the agency proposed earlier.

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