Compromise Struck for Yellowstone County's SO2 Emissions - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Compromise Struck for Yellowstone County's SO2 Emissions

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The final ruling in the saga over Yellowstone County's SO2 emissions came down from the EPA. Although the county as a whole avoided the hammer, one specific spot, the Corrette coal fired power plant, will have additional restrictions on plant emissions.

"We previously announced that we planned to place the Corrette plant into a long term reserve status, beginning in April of 2015. With this ruling, though, it would require the installation of additional controls if we decided to resume the operation of Corrette beyond that April 2015 date," said David Hoffman, director of external affairs for PPL Montana.

However, Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy said calling Corrette a non-attainment area is a better alternative than restrictions on the entire county.

"The majority of our refineries and industries are outside that non-attainment area, which is a compromise that we did see. It will be workable for us in Yellowstone County," said Commissioner Kennedy.

According to the data released by the state's Department of Environmental Quality, SO2 levels have decreased significantly since the early 1990s. But there was a spike in sulfur dioxide in the region in 2010; something the EPA said they want to see addressed. Commissioner Kennedy said the county continues to work to improve air quality.

"This will keep industry moving in here, it will create new jobs, and actually except for the non-attainment area it will be business as usual," he said.

An EPA spokesperson expressed that the agency spokesperson took all factors into consideration in making this decision and believes it will improve air quality and protect public health.