Speak up for Clean Air and Clear Skies over Our National Parks
Under a plan presented by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and Arizona Public Service Company (APS), the aging coal-fired Cholla Power Plant will be allowed to pollute more over the next two decades than under a plan proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Cholla Power Plant, owned by APS and PacifiCorp, has a more damaging total impact on smog clouding national parks and wilderness areas than any other coal-fired power plant in the country, according to the National Park Service. Cholla hurts air quality at 13 such ‘Class I’ park and wilderness areas, including Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.
In 2012, the EPA took action to restore and improve visibility in Arizona’s renowned national parks and wilderness areas when it disapproved of the State’s inadequate regional haze plan and submitted a stronger federal plan in its place. To comply with the Clean Air Act, EPA’s plan required three units at Cholla to be retrofitted with selective catalytic reduction controls, a technology now in wide use at more than 200 coal-fired units around the country. Selective catalytic reduction can cut nitrogen oxide pollution by 90 percent.
Now, ADEQ seeks to “re-do” the haze plan for Cholla at the utilities’ request. Rather than require Cholla to install highly-effective pollution controls, Arizona’s new plan would require Cholla Unit 2 to retire by 2016, but allow Cholla Units 3 and 4 to continue operating without any additional pollution controls until 2025. Then, in 2025, the utilities would either switch Units 3 and 4 to natural gas, or retire the units.
ADEQ will be holding two public hearings regarding this matter.
July 13, 2015
Public Works Complex
100 West Public Works Drive
Holbrook, AZ 86025
July 14, 2015
ADEQ, Conference Room 3175 A-B
1110 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007.
PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND, IF YOU CAN, AND SPEAK BRIEFLY IN SUPPORT OF REQUIRING MORE POLLUTION REDUCTIONS.
Talking Points for Cholla BART Reassessment Hearing
- Desert skies in Arizona’s national parks require the highest level of air quality of protection. Unfortunately, the air at parks including Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon are far from clean on many days of the year. On such hazy days our kids can’t see across the canyons, on those same days the air is hard for some of us to breathe.
- In 2012, EPA took action to restore and improve visibility in Arizona’s renowned national parks and wilderness areas when it disapproved the State’s inadequate regional haze plan and submitted a stronger federal plan in its place.
- EPA’s federal regional haze plan requires the Cholla Power Plant to install modern and cost-effective pollution controls, as required by the Clean Air Act. EPA’s plan will lead to much needed and much improved air quality at our country’s most iconic national parks, including Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest.
- NPCA and Sierra Club support EPA’s plan and have defended EPA’s plan in court against legal challenges by the State of Arizona, Arizona Public Service Company, and PacifiCorp.
- Now, the State of Arizona seeks to “re-do” the haze plan for Cholla at the utilities’ request. Rather than require Cholla to install highly-effective pollution controls, Arizona’s new plan would require Cholla Unit 2 to retire by 2016, but allow Cholla Units 3 and 4 to continue operating without any additional pollution controls until 2025. Then, in 2025, the utilities would either switch Units 3 and 4 to natural gas, or retire the units.
- NPCA and Sierra Club support the utilities’ commitment to stop burning coal at Cholla. But we oppose Arizona’s new plan because it would result in increased air pollution for the next two decades compared to EPA’s existing plan. The Clean Air Act prohibits states from weakening existing plans in this manner.
- Fortunately, Arizona’s own analysis shows that it would be cost-effective to install additional pollution controls on Units 3 and 4 before the utilities stop burning coal at Cholla in 2025. To protect Arizona’s renowned national parks and to comply with the Clean Air Act, Arizona should require Cholla Units 3 and 4 to promptly install additional, cost-effective pollution controls before they stop burning coal in 2025.
- Requiring Cholla Units 3 and 4 to clean up their pollution before they stop burning coal in ten years will adhere to legal requirements for cleaning up park skies, while also allowing the utilities to stop burning coal. This would have dramatic benefits for our air quality in our deserts and all of us who live in them. Clearer park skies from this a strong haze plan will be demonstrable- but clear skies will not be the only result- human health, health of the plants, the animals, the water and the land itself will also realize great and invaluable benefits.
- Our parks are a great resource for us. Economically, many of us depend on tourists that would never set foot here without our parks. Spiritually, we all need a place to refresh and reconnect with the natural world – places that tell our stories, our cultural heritage. But we have an obligation to protect these places if we want them to be around and enjoyable for our grandchildren.