We have made significant gains in reducing emissions by key Colorado Plateau power plants.
Navajo Generating Station
In 1991, the Trust negotiated to reduce Navajo Generating Station’s SO2 emissions by more than 60,000 tons annually. The effort, undertaken by a coalition of environmental groups led by Ed Norton, former Trust president, was the culmination of a battle between environmentalists and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the White House, and owners of Navajo. For years, groups fought to enforce the Clean Air Act to protect visibility in our national parks and wilderness areas. Ultimately, the battle focused on the impact of Navajo’s contribution to the degraded visibility at the Grand Canyon, which led to an agreement to reduce SO2 emissions from the plant by 90 percent. In 2010, the Department of Interior committed to funding a comprehensive assessment of renewable energy and less polluting options to eventually replace the NGS.
Mohave Generating Station
In early 1998, the Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, and National Parks and Conservation Association filed a lawsuit in federal court against the co-owners of the Mohave Generating Station for thousands of emission limit violations. We showed in briefs that between 1993 and 1998 the power plant had violated the opacity limit (a measure of pollution density) more than 400,000 times and the sulfur dioxide limit over 40,000 times. We also showed that these violations were taking place on a continual basis. Before the case went to trial the owners agreed to settle. The consent decree required the defendants to stop their long-standing violations by no later than December 31, 2005. Mohave closed on that date because its owners refused to install pollution controls and they failed to reach an agreement on coal and water supplies needed to keep the power plant operating.
San Juan Generating Station
On May 16, 2002, the Trust, along with the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, filed a citizens’ lawsuit against Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) for violations of the Clean Air Act at the San Juan Generating Station — a four-unit, 1,600-megawatt, coal-fired power plant that dumps about 14 million tons of CO2, 21,000 tons of SO2, 28,000 tons of NOX, and 751 pounds of mercury into the air around Four Corners. In 2004 PNM admitted in federal court to more than 42,000 clean air violations at the plant and committed to a pollution reduction plan. That plan was entered as a court order. In 2009, PNM completed installing the controls, including the new carbon-injection system to reduce mercury. As a result, NOX emissions dropped by about 10,000 tons; SO2 emissions by about 7,000 thousand tons; and mercury emissions by about 500 pounds.
Springerville Generating Station
In 2001, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) announced plans to add two new 400-megawatt units to its Springerville plant. On November 9, 2001, the Trust filed a lawsuit alleging that TEP was operating the existing units at Springerville without a proper air quality (Prevention of Significant Deterioration, or “PSD”) permit. A consent decree on the Springerville litigation was signed in 2005 that resolved the Trust’s federal enforcement action alleging that the plant was operating without a valid air quality permit. In return, PNM stipulated that SO2 emissions for all four units will decline 44 percent compared to the emissions from the existing two units, NOX emissions will decline 23 percent, the potential for pollution from the existing units will be capped, the owners of Unit 4 will spend $1 million a year for 5 years on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.