Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Navajos: Say 'NO!' to Dirty Four Corners Power Plant

Tim Wagner
Program Director
Resource Media
150 S. 600 E. Suite 2BSalt Lake City, UT 84105
Office: 801-364-1668Mobile: 801-502-5450
November 24, 2010
Contacts: · Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, 505-360-8994,

· Lori Goodman, DinĂ© Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, 970-259-0199,

EPA Reschedules Pollution Rule for Four Corners Power Plant
Groups: ‘We need to clean up this dirty legacy.’

FARMINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is extending the current comment period regarding proposed pollution reduction requirements for the Four Corners Power Plant from December 20, 2010 to March 18, 2011.

The Four Corners plant, located near Farmington, New Mexico, is the nation’s largest source of nitrogen oxide pollution, which has degraded visibility and created regional haze in a region once known for clear skies and pristine natural areas. Large sources of nitrogen oxide are also known to cause heart and respiratory diseases.

Local groups who have been working to clean up the coal-burning power plant and advocating for cleaner, more diversified sources of energy said that in spite of the extension, the Environmental Protection Agency needs to implement the most stringent air quality standards possible in order to address the regional haze pollution problem.

"After an almost 50-year legacy of pollution from the Four Corners Power Plant that has resulted in serious health impacts to the public, we believe that it is time to expedite long-term solutions that benefit our health, our economy, reduce regional haze at our treasured national parks and end the legacy of environmental degradation,” said Mike Eisenfeld with the San Juan Citizens Alliance. “The larger goal here is to transition this region to an economy that benefits everyone who lives here."

The EPA-proposed rule requires new pollution reduction technology on all five coal-fired units of the 2,040 megawatt power plant. The rule comes under the agency’s Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) requirement as part of the Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Rule to improve visibility in adjacent national parks, such as Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.

In response, Arizona Public Service Company (APS), who owns Units 1, 2, and 3, proposed to the EPA that it would consider shutting down these older units and installing the pollution reduction technology on only Units 4 & 5. In order to do this, APS would need to purchase the shares of Units 4 & 5 owned by Southern California Edison (SCE).

SCE announced earlier this fall that it was divesting its ownership in units 4 & 5 in order to meet California’s new greenhouse gas restrictions.

APS, whose latest proposal must be evaluated by the EPA, claims that shutting down the three older units while updating the two newer units with modern pollution controls would reduce pollution and haze more than by installing the latest technology on all five units. However, APS is proposing to operate those coal burners for another 31 years until 2041.

This plan has disappointed groups who are advocating for more reductions in dirty coal combustion and dramatic increases in renewable energy in the region.

“APS has publicly stated in the not-so-distant-past that coal will play a smaller role in its portfolio while renewables will increase,” said Lori Goodman with DinĂ© CARE. “Right now, as they are considering these major investments, is their opportunity to make that a reality.”

Goodman said that while coal has provided jobs for some of the Navajo Nation, it has never been the economic panacea that it was touted to be. With poverty and unemployment on the Navajo Nation still occurring at record highs, and the fact that the coal will not last forever while at the same time facing increasing regulatory challenges, Goodman said, “… now is the time for us to start moving towards a more diverse, clean energy economy that can provide the kinds of long-term jobs we want and need.”

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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