An agreement has been reached between PacifiCorp and the state of Wyoming to keep Unit 2 of the Jim Bridger power plant operational beyond April 30, 2022, the original date it was supposed to close.

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Based on a press release by Governor Mark Gordon, the agreement has PacifiCorp convert Units 1 and 2 to natural gas, which must be done no later than Jan. 1, 2024, along with committing to certain emission limits.

This would go against the original deal made with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014, which required all four units at the power plant to install selective catalytic reduction units, which Pacificorp has stated would be too costly to implement.

Previously, the EPA had issued a proposed ruling that disapproved of Wyoming’s recently revised regional haze State Implementation Plan (SIP) at the Jim Bridger Power Plant, with the comment period ending on Feb. 17.

Unit 2 is currently only operating because of a suspension order issued by Gordon on December 31, 2021, which allows continued operation through April 30, 2022, in spite of an EPA order closing the unit by the end of 2021.

The agreement was memorialized in a consent decree between Wyoming and PacifiCorp that was approved by the District Court on Feb. 14.

Gordon said he thinks the agreement represents a path forward, and he hopes that the EPA will agree.

"I am cautiously optimistic that this arrangement will actually stick, unlike the earlier agreement in which EPA reversed course," Gordon said. "There are still procedural steps to take and the public will have opportunities to comment in the future...I also thank EPA Administrator Michael Regan for engaging in constructive dialogue on this important issue during our meeting last month. Finally, I recognize the tireless efforts of our office of the Attorney General and the Department of Environmental Quality to keep looking for a solution."

It is currently unclear what the EPA's response will be the consent decree reached by Wyoming and Pacificorp.

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