FRUITLAND, New Mexico — Conservation groups have asked federal agencies to require a New Mexico coal-fired power plant to take measures to reduce its air pollution and thereby lessen the amount of haze it causes in national parks and wilderness areas.
Multiple groups, including the National Parks Conservation Association, Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, the San Juan Citizens Alliance and the Grand Canyon Trust, petitioned the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.
They are seeking a declaration that the pollution from the Arizona Public Service Co.'s Four Corners Power Plant on Navajo land in northwest New Mexico is violating the Clean Air Act by causing poor visibility in protected areas in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.
"Emissions from this dirty, outdated coal plant have obscured priceless views in our national parks in a brown haze for years," said Stephanie Kodish, clean air counsel for the Conservation Association. "It's time for EPA to take action to protect our residents' health and our cultural and scenic treasures."
The plant is the largest single source of air pollution in New Mexico, according the Arizona Public Service's monitoring reports. Every year, the plant's five generating units burn more than 10 million tons of coal and discharge approximately 42,000 tons of nitrogen oxides; 12,000 tons of sulfur dioxide; and 1,300 tons of particulate matter.
Because Four Corners is within 200 miles of 16 national parks and wilderness areas, much of this pollution degrades their beauty, the groups contend. Canyonlands, Mesa Verde and Arches national parks are among those most affected by the pollution.
— Amy Joi O'Donoghue