Navajo coal plant pollution and Grand Canyon haze subject to hearing
Leaders of several Indian nations urged a House subcommittee Tuesday to stall plans to tighten emission standards at the Navajo Generating Station in northeastern Arizona, which is partly owned by Los Angeles' Department of Water & Power.
Tribal leaders said they depend on the plant for coal sales, royalties, lease fees, employment and water rights. The plant powers the Central Arizona Project, a system of more than 300 miles of pipelines, aqueducts and pumping stations that supplies about 80% of the state's water users, predominantly in Tucson and Phoenix.
Leroy Shingoitewa, chairman of the Hopi tribal council, warned the congressional panel that closure of the plant would make the Hopi "a ward of the nation."
The Navajo Generating Station and Four Corners power plants are the top source of pollutants among power plants west of the Mississippi River. The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing for retrofits that would lower emissions and reduce haze that often obscures views of the nearby Grand Canyon.
The EPA is scheduled to decide this summer whether to require pollution controls for the plant, one of the biggest sources of nitrogen oxide emissions in the country.
"Our job is to decide, 'Are the parks adequately protected?' " said Colleen McKaughan, associate director of the EPA's air division in San Francisco. "And if they're not, does the facility need additional pollution controls?"
Testimony is continuing before a joint subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.
-- Geoff Mohan
Photo: The Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, as seen from Lake Powell. Credit: Joe Cavaretta / Associated Press