Clean air is within reach for our Southwestern national parks.
Two of Utah’s oldest, dirtiest coal-fired power plants — the Hunter and Huntington facilities — pollute the air in eight of the region’s national parks: Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
For years, the State of Utah has refused to make 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 continued to recycle a do-nothing plan that would allow Pacificorp’s Rocky Mountain Power to let the Hunter and Huntington plants keep on spewing preventable haze pollution.
In response to the state’s persistently weak submissions, in June of 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a regional haze plan for Utah that required the state to cut emissions from these coal plants by 76 percent — reducing haze-causing and health-harming nitrogen oxide pollution achievable through modern pollution controls.
In September 2017, under the leadership of former Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA undercut the June 2016 regional haze plan, suspending the requirements that would protect Southwestern national parks and communities from coal pollution. In its place, the EPA invited the state of Utah to propose yet another plan to replace the one providing these much-needed pollution reductions. In April 2019, Utah responded by recycling its original weak plan to let the dirty, outdated Hunter and Huntington coal plants that are muddying the views and dark night skies across the region off the hook. In early 2020, EPA signed a proposed rule to approve Utah’s recycled plan that, if finalized, would allow the Hunter and Huntington coal-fired power plants to continue polluting the air we breathe, increasing hazy skies in Utah’s treasured national parks and adding to our climate crisis.
NPCA will continue to advocate for the best option to clean the air – it is essential to reduce pollution from these coal plants and control other pollution sources harming air quality. The State of Utah now must develop a new Regional Haze plan in 2021 to fulfill the obligation to protect the Southwest’s most stunning national parks, their visitors and surrounding communities.
More than 14,000 Supporters Sent Letters to EPA
NPCA supporters sent letters to the U.S. EPA asking it to reject Utah’s regional haze plan and require the best technology to cut nitrogen oxide pollution at the Hunter and Huntington plants.
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