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Arizona sues EPA over haze rule


From the February 4, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published February 4, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
The state of Arizona filed suit Jan. 31 challenging an Environmental Protection Agency rule that disapproved a state implementation plan to improve visibility in some national parks by reducing emissions at three coal-fired power plants and substituted a federal plan that calls for pollution controls that the state said could cost up to $1 billion. "We are not challenging EPA's right to act on our state implementation plan," Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Henry Darwin said. "But what we are challenging is EPA replacing Arizona's decision with its own on an issue not related to protecting public health and the environment but visibility."

"This attempt by the EPA has nothing to do with ensuring clean air and everything to do with trying to eliminate coal as a source of electricity," said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the suit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. "The terrible irony of this is that the supposed improvement in visibility the EPA wants to achieve is not even visible to the human eye. These plants are being told to reduce haze that cannot even be seen and has no effect on a person’s health." Horne said the EPA rule is "an absurd action that would significantly raise utility rates for most Arizonans without providing any benefit to anyone."

EPA's regional haze rule would require installation of selective catalytic reduction controls at units 2 and 3 of Arizona Electric Power Cooperative's 350-MW Apache power plant, Arizona Public Service and PacifiCorp's 1,021-MW Cholla plant, and the Salt River Project's 773-MW Coronado plant. 

EPA last month proposed to require installation of selective catalytic reduction controls at the 2,250-MW Navajo Generating Station, which is jointly owned by Salt River Project, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Arizona Public Service, Nevada Power Co., Tucson Electric Power and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The plant’s owners are concerned that compliance may not be achievable with the stringent emission limits in EPA's proposal, particularly in a retrofit application, and that the proposal may not allow the owners enough time to resolve uncertainties facing the plant before they will be required to make a significant financial commitment, SRP said.

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