‘Federal over-regulation’: Washington County voices opposition to EPA’s ‘Good Neighbor Rule’

ST. GEORGE — As a new rule of the Environment Protection Agency regarding power plant emissions goes into effect this month, the Washington County Commission passed a resolution Tuesday opposing the rule and joins several other Utah voices in doing so.

Smoke stacks, location and date unknown | Stock photo, St. George News

Known as the “Good Neighbor Rule,” the Ozone Transfer Rule is designed to cut down on cross-state smog pollution from power plants and other industrial uses.

Following the finalization of the rule in March by the EPA, Utah’s state and federal officials decried the measure and called it over-regulation that threatens to close down Utah’s power plants and trigger a spike in energy costs.

“The Ozone Transfer Rule released by the Environmental Protection Agency harms Utahns and threatens our ability to provide affordable and reliable baseload energy to our state,” a joint March 15 press release states. “We cannot and will not stand by as the (Biden) Administration encroaches on our state’s reasonable, responsible and realistic approach to powering the state.”

Signing the letter with a pledge to push back on the regulation were Gov. Spencer Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes, Utah House and Senate leaders Brad Wilson and J. Stewart Adams and the entirety of Utah’s congressional delegation.

Republican Rep. Colin Jack of St. George, a state legislator and electrical engineer with Dixie Power, has also spoken against the new EPA rule.

In this file photo, the County Commission Chambers of the new Washington County Administration Building in St. George, Utah, April 4, 2023 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Pushback is happening on the county level as well with Washington County and others passing their own resolutions opposing the new rule.

“This is one of the ways we push back, as well as many lobbying efforts and advocating, trying to keep power affordable,” Commission Chair Adam Snow said. “It’s ridiculous federal over-regulation.”

Utah is one of 23 states impacted by the new air rule. While elected Utah officials and others say it will cause power rates to go up, the EPA states the benefits of its air quality plan will outweigh any negative impacts. The agency also states that once the Good Neighbor Rule is fully implemented, it will “increase the overall costs of electricity production by only slightly more than 1%.”

The resolution against the EPA’s Good Neighbor Rule unanimously passed as Snow and Commissioner Victor Iverson approved it. Commissioner Gil Almquist was not present as he was tending to county business elsewhere.

In other business, the commission approved to use the remainder of the American Rescue Plan Act money it had received during the pandemic to fund the following projects:

  • Washington County Children’s Justice Center expansion.
  • Expansion at the Purgatory Correctional Facility.
  • Various projects overseen by the Washington County Water Conservancy District.
  • New storage building for the county’s Emergency Operations Center.

The county also granted $15,000 in RAP tax funding to the Silver Reef Foundation for improvements to the Silver Reef Museum.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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