Nearly four months after last summer’s historic agreement to reduce emissions from the Navajo Generating Station, the plant continues to belch pollutants and compromise health, a group of local community leaders and public health experts said on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association.
“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,” said the Arizona Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, Kevin Dahl, in a statement on November 11. “The pollution from this plant must be substantially reduced as soon as possible, for the sake of our lungs and our parks.”
The group released its statement ahead of this week’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearings on a few variations of proposals that would address the problem. The public hearings and open houses are being held around Arizona, including at the Hopi Day School, on November 13, 14 and 15.
The agreement—signed in July by the Department of the Interior, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Navajo Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Project, Environmental Defense Fund and Western Resources Advocates—enabled the generating station to continue providing electricity, while laying out a plan for significantly reducing emissions over the next several years.
At about the same time, the Navajo Nation also signed an extension to the station’s lease.
Work is ongoing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how and when to achieve major emissions reductions from the station, one of the U.S.’s largest sources of nitrogen oxide (NOx), among other harmful gases, in the atmosphere. On September 25 the EPA announced another potential plan, an “alternative that establishes a lifetime cap in NOx emissions, accommodates different future ownership scenarios, and ensures greater emission reductions than EPA’s initial proposal,” the agency said in a statement.
But the alternative proposal “could delay air quality improvements required under EPA’s plan by 11 or more years,” the group said in its statement. The alternatives, the group said, “would delay much needed pollution reduction.”
Devised by the Technical Working Group (comprising representatives from generating station co-owners the Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Environmental Defense Fund, Navajo Nation government, the Gila River Indian Community, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Western Resource Advocates, among others), the alternative and original proposals are open for comment through January 6, 2014, the EPA said.
More information about the proposals, along with fact sheets and the time and location of this week’s hearings, can be found on the EPA’s web page for Air Actions, Navajo Nation.