Thursday, August 09, 2012

New EPA rules for Four Corners power plant could reduce air pollution at national parks

The Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule aimed at reducing emissions at the largest single source of haze-causing pollution in the U.S., the Four Corners Power Plant in northwestern New Mexico. The agency says plant operators can either reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by upgrading five generators at the plant or permanently shut down three and install pollution controls on the two others.

Either move would cut emissions that can limit visibility at several Western national parks by 80 to 87 percent, reports Felicia Fonseca of The Associated Press. Regional EPA Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said reducing emissions is a "commonsense approach" that will improve air quality at parks that are "crucial to the economy of Four Corners." Arizona Public Service plans to close three units and install pollution controls. The plant provides electricity to about 300,000 homes in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

The EPA has long considered whether the Four Corners plant and another on the Navajo Reservation would need upgrades, Fonseca reports. Under the APS's proposal to shutter three generators, it would install $290 million in pollution controls, and spokesman Damon Gross said the Navajo, local economy, customers and the environment would all benefit. However, the Navajo fear a loss of about $9 million a year in coal royalties that would come if three generators are shut down. (Read more)

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