National Parks Group Urges End to Clean Up Delays at Navajo Generating Station

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   November 11, 2013
Contact:   Kevin Dahl, Arizona Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, (O) 520-624-2014, (C) 520-603-6430, kdahl@npca.org
Jeff Billington, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-419-3717, jbillington@npca.org


National Parks Group Urges End to Clean Up Delays at Navajo Generating Station

Conservation leaders and health experts appeal to the Environmental Protection Agency to decrease pollution from the west’s largest coal-fired power plant

TUCSON, ARIZ —As harmful pollution from the archaic Navajo Generating Station continues to plague the Four Corners region, local community leaders and public health experts representing the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at hearings this week to end clean up delays for the west’s largest coal plant polluter. An EPA proposal would require modern pollution controls at the facility; however, the agency is considering alternatives to its proposal that would delay much needed pollution reduction.

“For decades this plant has emitted massive amounts of preventable pollution into the skies above our national parks like the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Mesa Verde, as well as into the lungs of hundreds of thousands of local residents and visitors to these magnificent places,” NPCA Arizona Program Manager Kevin Dahl said. “The pollution from this plant must be substantially reduced as soon as possible, for the sake of our lungs and our parks.”

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) had strongly supported the original EPA proposal to significantly cut emissions of nitrogen oxides that obscure the views at the local national parks and wilderness areas and are responsible for thousands of respiratory and other breathing related illnesses in the region each year. But an alternative proposal, which was developed by Department of Interior, Salt River Project and others could delay air quality improvements required under EPA’s plan by 11 or more years. 

Modern pollution controls required at more than 250 similar coal plants nationwide would curb NGS’s emissions by 84 percent, reducing public health risks as well as the visible pollution at the region’s national parks. For every year pollution controls are delayed, Navajo’s emissions alone will cause haze for an extra month or more at eight nearby national parks and wilderness areas. The national parks of the Four Corners region are a tourist draw and mainstay of the local economy and good air quality is vital to the recreation economy. According to the National Park Service, the national parks in the Four Corners region affected by Navajo’s pollution annually generate a combined total of $1.08 billion in spending. Health care costs associated with Navajo’s emissions, on the other hand, come at a cost to our bodies — and economy — of more than $128 million each year.

"Hazy skies should be a warning sign that something is wrong, but far too often we come to accept polluted air as the norm,  allowing it to diminish this region's natural beauty, and threaten our health," said Dr. George Thurston, Professor of Environmental Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. "For decades, the Navajo Generating Station has emitted air pollution into the air that the downwind communities breathe, needlessly leading to more than 1,000 additional restricted activity days, more than 500 extra asthma exacerbation days, hundreds of lost work days, and from two to five extra deaths in Arizona each year that the best pollution controls are not applied to the plant.  These health damages are estimated to be valued at more than $13 million dollars in needless health effects each year" he added citing a new analysis of the health impacts that air pollution from Navajo Generating Station has on surrounding communities in Arizona.

The 1977 Clean Air Act promised cleaner air for our national parks and for the people who live near them and visit them. With the right policy, the EPA can ensure that the pollution that has shrouded this region for the last 40 years can finally be cleaned up as promised in 1977.

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