EPA Announces Approval of Plan to Close Dirty Coal Units at Four Corners Power Plant
August 9, 2012
On August 9, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final approval of a plan to close three of the five units at the Four Corners Power Plant. For the two remaining units, the EPA has confirmed the need to install stringent pollution controls. This is a step in the right direction for the many people in the Farmington area and on the Navajo lands who live in the coal plant’s shadow and breathe the air the plant has long-been contaminated.
This plan will greatly reduce the emissions at the Four Corners Power Plant. Unfortunately, with this plan, APS has chosen to increase its overall reliance on dirty coal generation by buying additional coal capacity from Southern California Edison at the Four Corners Power Plant. Sierra Club is urging APS to chart a new path - one that will replace its reliance on coal energy with clean, safe and affordable energy, such as solar and wind power, and to ramp up its investments in energy efficiency programs.
Located on the Navajo Nation reservation, the Four Corners Power Plant has spewed nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and particulates into the air for many years. Navajo children and elders have been particularly vulnerable to air toxics emanating from the plant and today’s final EPA decision represents a major turning point.
April 18, 2012
On April 18, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved APS’ proposal to close Units 1-3 and purchase ownership of the larger Units 4 and 5 at the Four Corners coal plant located on Navajo Nation land near Farmington, New Mexico. The plan still hinges on APS reaching an agreement to extend the plant’s coal contract with mining company BHP Billiton, and on approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
December 1, 2010
On November 8, Arizona Public Service (APS) announced that it will close Units 1, 2, and 3 at the Four Corners coal-fired power plant located on Navajo Nation land near Farmington, New Mexico. The company has also entered into an agreement to purchase Southern California Edison’s ownership stake in the larger Units 4 and 5 at the plant. Sierra Club applauds Southern California Edison’s decision to transition away from dirty coal-fired power, but is disappointed with APS’ decision to increase its overall ownership of the coal plant – APS is proposing to close down 560 megawatts (Units 1-3) in exchange for acquiring 740 megawatts (Units 4 and 5).
On a related front, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period on the proposed pollution controls for the Four Corners coal plant. The extension, from December 20 to March 18, gives the public more time to assess APS’ recent proposal to shut down three of the five units at the plant.
October 11, 2010
Sierra Club and its allies applaud the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for taking steps to drastically reduce air pollution at one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the nation. On October 6, EPA announced a proposal that would require Arizona Public Service to install state-of-the-art pollution control technology at its massive Four Corners coal plant located on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, a move that would reduce the plant’s nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent.
EPA’s proposal is a part of a larger effort to improve air quality for communities living near some of the country’s most pristine national parks and wilderness areas. The Four Corners region of the southwest, which is home to national parks like Mesa Verde, suffers from high levels of air pollution. The 2,250-megawatt Four Corners coal plant is the largest source of nitrogen oxides in the nation. Nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the atmosphere to form harmful ozone and regional haze, posing a serious threat to public health and the environment.
EPA will continue to consult with the Navajo Nation and other affected tribes, and federal land managers before taking any final action. There will be a 60-day public comment period on the proposed action as well as two public hearings in the Four Corners area. More details will be provided at least 30 days before the hearings.
July 5, 2007
In response to Sierra Club's legal challenge, on May 1, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued their long overdue plan to regulate pollution from the Four Corners coal-fired power plant, located on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Unfortunately, in preparing its plan, EPA failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that the set pollution limits would actually protect the health of Four Corners' residents. Instead of issuing a plan to protect public health, EPA created a plan to fill the gap it left by not regulating Four Corners in the first place. In response to the agency’s negligence, on July 5, 2007, Sierra Club took legal action to urge EPA to live up to its responsibility to the health and safety of local communities.
September 3, 2006
Sierra Club has successfully convinced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take a positive first step towards protecting the health and safety of the Navajo community living near the Four Corners coal-fired power plant. On September 1, 2006, EPA released a long awaited federal implementation plan (FIP) to set air pollution emission limits for the Four Corners plant. One of the largest and dirtiest coal plants in the nation, Four Corners has operated without federal regulation since 1960. In response to legal action taken by the Club, EPA has finally initiated efforts to regulate this heavy polluter. Sierra Club will continue to hold the agency's feet to the fire to ensure that the final regulations provide local residents with their right to clean air, free of the toxins that Four Corners currently emits.
July 27, 2006
The Four Corners coal-fired power plant in New Mexico emits 15 million tons of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and mercury, an established neuro-toxin. The plant's annual emissions of nitrogren oxide, (NOx), are higher than any other U.S. coal plant, totaling 40,742 tons; this amount is equivalent to the emissions released from approximately two million vehicles driven an average of 15,000 miles per year. Emissions from this plant are so extraordinarily high due to a startling and unacceptable lack of regulation. Located on a Navajo reservation, neither tribal, state nor federal emission restrictions have been placed on the plant. In 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the need for a federal implementation plan, or FIP, to set air pollution emission limits for the Four Corners plant. However, for the past seven years, EPA has failed to finalize this vital plan.
In July 2005, Sierra Club petitioned EPA to issue a final FIP for the Four Corners plant, which EPA never acted upon. On July 27, 2006, Sierra Club took legal action against the agency, urging them to release the long awaited FIP within 60 days.
July 11, 2005
On July 7, 2005, the Sierra Club petitioned the Bush administration to clean up the huge, coal-fired Four Corners power plant in northwestern New Mexico. The plant burns up to 28,000 tons of coal every day and its current EPA permit does not include any emissions limits or monitoring requirements for soot, nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide. Modernizing the plant with readily available pollution controls would drastically clean up the air in the Four Corners region. The Club's Rio Grande Chapter recently succeeded in cleaning up another huge coal plant in the area - the San Juan plant - owned by Public Service of New Mexico, after settling a long-standing lawsuit against the utility. The Club was joined by Grand Canyon Trust and the National Parks and Conservation Association in this latest effort.
Details and Documents:
EPA Announces Final Approval of Plan to Close Dirty Coal Units at Four Corners Power Plant
August 9, 2012, Sierra Club Press Release
California Utility Abandons Coal Power at Four Corners Plant
November 9, 2010, Sierra Club Press Release
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Best Available Retrofit Technology Determination for Four Corners Power Plant October 6, 2010, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Petition for Review
July 5, 2007, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Sierra Club Comments on the Proposed Federal Implementation Plan
November 6, 2006, Submitted to US EPA Region IX by Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of Sierra Club et al.
Sierra Club's Complaint against EPA
July 26, 2006, United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
APS plans to shut down 3 units at Four Corners Power Plant by end of year
October 4, 2012 by Chuck Slothower, The Daily Times
Four Corners Plant gets Two Options to Cut NOx
August 10, 2012, Utility E-Alert
Four Corners gets 2 options to cut smog
August 9, 2012 by Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press
Four Corners Power Plant purchase moves ahead
April 19, 2012, The Daily Times
APS Plan to Restructure Power Plant Moves Forward
March 24, 2012 by Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press
Groups seek to force EPA to act on power plants
March 22, 2012 by Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press
Ruling held up on power plant near Grand Canyon
July 21, 2011, Associated Press
EPA comment period wraps up for NM power plant
April 4, 2011, Associated Press
Pollution controls proposed for NM power plant
March 29, 2011, Associated Press
Navajo Mine plans for changes
December 12, 2010 by Chuck Slothower, The Daily Times
EPA extends comment period for NM power plant
November 24, 2010, Associated Press
Four Corners Plant to Emit Less Pollution
November 9, 2010by Marjorie Childress, The New Mexico Independent
Coal Plant Would Get New Controls
October 6, 2010 by Felicity Barringer, The New York Times
Sierra Club files lawsuit against emissions plan for Four Corners plant
July 10, 2007, Associated Press
EPA finalizes clean air plan for Four Corners Power Plant
May 1, 2007, Environmental Protection Agency Press Release
EPA proposes clean air plan for Four Corners, Navajo Generating Station Power Plants
August 31, 2006, Environmental Protection Agency Press Release
Sierra Club Pressures Feds to Clean Up Air Pollution at Four Corners Power Plant
July 27, 2006, Sierra Club Press Release
Groups seek cleaner Four Corners Power Plant
July 10, 2005, Associated Press
Sierra Club Wins Huge Clean Air Victory at San Juan Power Plant
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