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Natural Resources & Energy

Emergency Rule-Making To Implement Carbon Capture Bill Tabled

Parties have expressed interest in retrofitting the Jim Bridger coal-fired power plant with carbon capture
WidEarth Guardians
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Parties have expressed interest in retrofitting the Jim Bridger coal-fired power plant with carbon capture

The Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) considered adopting emergency rules in order to implement a law passed in 2020. HEA 0079, "Reliable and Dispatchable Low Carbon Energy Standards," would require utilities to get a certain amount of electricity from coal plants with carbon capture attached by 2030.

According to the PSC, which regulates public utilities, adoption of emergency rule-making is being considered to afford an additional degree of certainty for stakeholders affected by the bill.

Based on the latest draft of rules, each electric utility needs to file an application to establish intermediate standards and requirements related to the bill by March 31, 2022. According to the PSC, the urgency revolves around that date.

Shannon Anderson, staff attorney for the Powder River Basin Resource Council, though, said administrative convenience is not an emergency.

"There's cases out there that show that just because a statute has a short compliance timeframe, [that] doesn't warrant emergency rule-making," she said. "You have to have that separate emergency. Again, something that's unexpected."

The risk, Anderson said, is that stakeholders will miss out on public comment.

"It just short cuts your deliberation and review of public comment, which is an important part of what our organization really believes in with agency decision-making," she said. "We just believe it is an important process, regardless of whether your decision ultimately changes."

Rocky Mountain Power has no problem with the emergency rule-making. Nor does Dale Cottam, an attorney representing Glenrock Energy, who argued there is an emergency.

"There are expiring federal tax credits, there are coal plants that are scheduled for retirement if there are no alternative means of production," he said. "It is nothing short of an emergency in order to preserve a number of benefits that are available to our state through the continued operation of these coal plants."

Cottam said Glenrock actually proposed earlier deadlines and compliance schedules. The company would be opposed to anything that pushes the date out, like a waiver for requirements once they’re in place.

The PSC decided to table the matter in order to consider comments made from interested stakeholders. The commission will revisit the topic within the next 30 days. Additional stakeholder comments can be founder here.

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