Coal Plant Would Get New Controls

NY Times
06 October 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency signaled on Wednesday that it would require a New Mexico power plant, one of the largest coal-fired ones in the nation, to install $717 million in pollution controls to curb emissions that spread haze over the Four Corners region of the Southwest, home to national parks like Mesa Verde.

The proposal to install the equipment on the oldest three units of the massive 2,250-megawatt plant is likely to have a long-term effect on both the territory and the economy of the Navajo Nation, which covers an area three times the size of Vermont across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Four Corners Power Plant and the coal mine on the Navajo reservation that supplies it with fuel employ more than 1,000 people, industry officials who oppose the costly controls say.

No other power plant in the country, the E.P.A. says, emits as high a level of nitrogen oxide as the Four Corners one. Such particles contribute to forming ozone and regional haze.

An earlier version of the proposed rule prompted Arizona Public Service, the state’s major utility, to suggest that it might have to close the three units affected by the rule if they could not be run at a profit.

Responding to the E.P.A. announcement, a spokesman for the company did not go that far on Wednesday. “Once we have an opportunity to thoroughly review and consider the proposal, we will evaluate the various scenarios,” the spokesman, Jim McDonald, said.

Parks advocates welcomed the proposed requirements. “The people living in Farmington and Shiprock have some of the worst pollution in the United States — the ozone levels are as bad as Phoenix and Los Angeles,” said Roger Clark, who directs the air and energy programs of the nonprofit Grand Canyon Trust. .

“I’m pleased to see that E.P.A. has followed through in what we think is the right interpretation of the Clean Air Act,” he said

The act requires the air around areas like national parks to be as clean as possible.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 8, 2010

An article on Thursday about a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to require the installation of costly air pollution controls at the Four Corners Power Plant, which is fired by coal, misidentified the state in which it is located. It is on Navajo territory in New Mexico, not in Arizona.



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