EPA Seeks To Remand Permit for Desert Rock Coal Plant

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   April 30, 2009
Contact:   Lori Goodman, Din CARE, 970-259-0199
Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, 505-360-8994
Nicholas Persampieri, Attorney, Earthjustice, 303-996-9617
Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


EPA Seeks To Remand Permit for Desert Rock Coal Plant

Advocates: 'It's A Good Day for the 4 Corners'

Washington, DC—In a positive move for the health and environment of the entire Four Corners region, the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to retract the permit for the proposed Desert Rock 1500 MW coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.

The remand request came after a coalition of environmental, conservation and Navajo groups petitioned the EPA on grounds that the permit was inadequate to protect health and the environment.

The plant would impose a massive industrial complex on the landscape, douse the region with air pollutants, strain critical water resources, and release some 650 million tons of greenhouse gases over its 50-year operational life.  Although some leaders of the Navajo Nation endorsed the plant, Navajo citizens, including the group Diné CARE, represented by Earthjustice, have been actively opposed to Desert Rock because it represents another 50 years of dirty coal that has plagued the reservation since the 1960s.

“We are hopeful that the Navajo Tribal Council will finally start to understand that another dirty coal plant is the last thing needed for the long term benefit of our land and our people,” said Lori Goodman of Diné CARE. “We are fortunate to live in a place that is rich in clean renewable energy resources. That is where we need to go.”

“We’re obviously quite happy with this decision,” said Mike Eisenfeld of the San Juan Citizen’s Alliance. “We have been working very hard for four years to alert our partners and local decision makers about the inadequacies and failures of the Desert Rock permit. This is simply another sign that this ill-begotten coal burner is not viable in today’s environment and under the new administration, and we hope that Sithe Global will finally realize that if they want to continue in the energy business, there are cleaner alternatives out there.”

“EPA Region 9 now agrees with what those opposed to Desert Rock have been saying for years,” said Nicholas Persampieri, attorney for Earthjustice. “Analysis of the plant’s adverse impacts, including the impacts of its mercury and fine particulate emissions, sufficient to ensure protection of human health and the environment has not been conducted.”

“We are encouraged by the policy developments signaled in EPA’s motion,” said Ann Weeks, attorney for Clean Air Task Force, and of counsel to several of the petitioning groups.  “Clean Air Act permit reviews must include comprehensive evaluation of the technologies that could reduce the full range of coal pollutants linked to premature death and disease including greenhouse gases, air toxics, solid waste and other air and water pollution.  The record in this case clearly demonstrates that evaluating all electricity generating technology approaches at this site is warranted.”

The Navajo Reservation is already home to the 2,100 megawatt Four Corners coal plant.  The 1,800 MW San Juan Generating Station is just 15 miles away.  These plants are considered two of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation and have had dramatic impacts to the reservation and the entire four corners region in terms of particulates, sulfur dioxide and mercury pollution.

“Fortunately for the communities, lands, including 27 national parks, and other resources in the region, EPA’s request signals hope for better air quality protections and the potential to replace dirty coal power with clean, renewable energy solutions,” said Karen Hevel-Mingo, National Parks Conservation Association Southwest Program Manager.

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