Oklahoma electric cooperatives have become a symbol of the environmental crisis faced by the nation’s coal-fired power plants, and of the need for a more robust and transparent public policy to protect the environment.
Oklahoma’s electric cooperators were among the first of the nation to file for bankruptcy protection in October, when they filed for protection from creditors after years of losing millions of dollars in federal tax credits.
Now, they are on the brink of collapse, as they have lost more than a quarter of their value.
The coal-burning companies that own them, Oklahoma Power and Light Co., and Oklahoma Valley Power & Light, were once the largest in the country, but have since shrunk.
“I’m not optimistic,” said Mike Miller, executive director of the Oklahoma Coal & Gas Association.
The companies have been shut down since March because of a $1.3 billion bankruptcy settlement.
“The public is looking for something to get its money back,” Miller said.
Miller has been a vocal critic of the bankruptcy process, saying the companies are not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that the coal-industry-controlled state government has failed to provide any meaningful oversight.
The bankruptcy has also caused significant economic damage in Oklahoma, as coal companies are increasingly reliant on cheaper natural gas to generate electricity.
“This is the worst-case scenario for the coal industry in Oklahoma,” Miller told The Associated Press last month.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced in January that it would seek a court order to force the three coal companies to return billions of dollars of tax credits to the state.
The federal government has since stepped in, claiming that the companies’ bankruptcy filing was not compliant with the terms of the Clean Air Act, which requires the states to reduce their carbon pollution.
Miller called on the Trump administration to enforce the Clean Power Plan, which would require the coal companies and other polluters to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050.
The rule would require states to impose pollution controls on power plants that burn coal and impose the costs of pollution controls and other regulations on fossil fuel producers.
But the Trump Administration has not yet responded to Miller’s calls.
Miller said the coal and gas industry is facing an existential threat and has no choice but to embrace the bankruptcy plan because it would provide a way to address their problems without having to rely on government subsidies.
“If we can do it without going to the federal government, that would be great,” he said.
The public is demanding that the federal governments go to the states and provide us with the money to address this problem.
It’s not something that we’re going to be able to do,” Miller added.
The Trump administration is taking a hard line against the coal coal industry, which has come under intense scrutiny as a result of the government shutdown and the court case. “
They are not going to get us to do what we need to do, so it’s a very positive sign that we have this kind of momentum,” he added.
The Trump administration is taking a hard line against the coal coal industry, which has come under intense scrutiny as a result of the government shutdown and the court case.
Miller pointed to a March EPA filing saying that “there is strong scientific evidence” that coal is a major driver of climate change.
The agency said that coal emits more carbon dioxide per megawatt hour than natural gas and that coal has been responsible for more than 10,000 premature deaths.
“Coal is an extremely dirty energy,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
“It’s very, very important to get rid of it and get rid the CO2 out of it.”
Pruitt said in March that the EPA would not take a position on whether the Clean Water Rule should be reversed because it has “no legal force.”
Miller said he believes Pruitt’s statement is part of a strategy by the administration to undermine the coal sector and its supporters, which includes Pruitt himself.
“They’re just trying to sabotage the coal economy in order to get a clean energy agenda passed,” Miller noted.
The Coal Industry Alliance, a trade group representing coal-related companies, also criticized Pruitt’s comments, saying they “shamelessly attack the hardworking families of Oklahoma.”