Clean air is still out of reach for our Southwestern national parks.
Two of Utah’s oldest, dirtiest coal-fired power plants — the Hunter and Huntington facilities — pollute the air and muddy the views in at least eight of the region’s national parks: Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. That same pollution harms the health of park visitors, wildlife and neighboring communities and drives climate change.
The State of Utah continues to refuse to require necessary pollution reductions already in place at many other coal plants across the West. Although the state must comply with the Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Rule, since 2008 it has recycled a do-nothing plan that allows Pacificorp’s Rocky Mountain Power to let the Hunter and Huntington plants keep on spewing preventable haze pollution. Now, as the State is developing another haze plan, they are still not planning to hold these polluters accountable.
And despite having a strong replacement regional haze plan from EPA (issued in 2016) that could supplant the state’s flawed first plan, the Biden administration is prepared to defend the Trump administration’s decision to let Utah’s massive coal plants pollute our national parks and wilderness areas in violation of the Regional Haze Rule. NPCA and our allies sued the EPA at the end of the Trump administration, and now intend to continue that lawsuit against the Biden administration to defend the Regional Haze Rule and fight for clean air in Southwestern national parks.
Meanwhile, NPCA continues to actively push for Utah to finally address the unmitigated pollution from these coal plants and other haze pollution sources across the state in their second round haze plan. The State of Utah still has the opportunity and power to do right by clean air in our parks and communities by requiring modern pollution controls that could cut haze-causing and health-harming nitrogen oxide pollution from Hunter and Huntington by 76 percent. It’s long past time for Utah to fulfill its obligation to protect the Southwest’s most stunning national parks, their visitors and surrounding communities and NPCA won’t stop advocating for those protections.
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