Press Release Feb 12, 2020

Utahans Urge EPA to Reject Plan to Pollute Southwest National Parks

EPA seeks to approve weak Utah Haze Plan that threatens parks and communities.

Price, UT – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a public comment session on the state of Utah’s do-nothing regional haze plan. In April 2019, Utah submitted a regional haze proposal to the EPA for the third time in eight years to continue operation of the Hunter and Huntington coal plants without pollution controls.

While the EPA rejected the last two plans submitted by Utah, the agency is now seeking to approve the third, repurposed regional haze plan that would allow the coal-plants to operate without Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) retrofits. The state plan would replace a federal plan approved by EPA in 2016 that required installation of SCRs that would have reduced pollution from the state’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants, which degrades visibility across Utah and in the state’s national parks.

“It’s unconscionable that the EPA and the state of Utah continue to put the health of our people and national parks at risk,” said Cory MacNulty, Southwest Associate Director for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). “Utah had a win-win plan that would have benefited our outdoor recreation economy, human health and the environment, but the Trump administration’s EPA is rolling back these protections, allowing two of our biggest polluters to continue to obscure our tremendous park landscapes with haze and taint the air we breathe with preventable pollution. Utahans, our parks and all who visit them deserve better.”

“The reality is that more and more people are recognizing how harmful coal plants are to our environment and health,” said Lindsay Beebe, Senior Organizing Representative at the Sierra Club. “By approving the operation of Hunter and Huntington coal plants without pollution controls, the EPA and the state of Utah will be pandering to corporate polluters who are trying to save money by violating federal protections instead of retiring the coal plants and tapping into affordable and clean renewable energy sources.”

“This plan, that the EPA is likely to approve, despite public comment, turns a blind eye to the negative health and tourism effects of air pollution in Utah’s rural areas and national parks,” said Dr. Scott Williams, Executive Director for the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. “Rather than using this regulatory loophole to continue polluting these communities with their outdated smokestacks, industry needs to adopt proven, 21st century technologies, like selective catalytic retrofits, and start protecting the public’s health today.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

About the Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah: The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) has been an environmental advocacy organization, watchdog, and strategic influencer in Utah since 1999. By empowering grassroots advocates, using science-based solutions, and developing common-sense policy, HEAL has a track record of tackling some of the biggest threats to Utah’s environment and public health — and succeeding. The organization focuses on clean air, energy and climate, and radioactive waste. HEAL uses well-researched legislative, regulatory, and individual responsibility approaches to create tangible change, and then utilizes grassroots action to make it happen. www.healutah.org.