News Ticker

Arizona, Utilities Fight EPA Plan to Reduce Power-Plant Haze

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, for the Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Public Service said it may be forced to close down one of the units at its Cholla
power plant near Holbrook if the EPA rules go into effect.
Photo Credit: Arizona Public Service

State officials and utilities are trying to kill a plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force owners of three coal-fired power plants to install expensive pollution-control equipment to improve visibility.

Henry Darwin, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, said the federal proposal to reduce oxides of nitrogen, known in the business as NOx, will impose hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary costs on utilities, and, by extension, their customers.

The fight pits visibility at the Grand Canyon and a dozen other federal parks and wilderness areas against economics.

Congress approved laws in the 1990s requiring restoration of “natural visibility” – the visibility that existed before power plants and other sources of visual pollution – in these parks by 2064. More immediately, states are required to show they are making reasonable progress toward that goal.

But unlike laws on health effects, Congress specified that the plans have to be based on a cost-benefit analysis, weighing the price against the improvement.

The federal Clean Air Act requires power plants built between 1967 and 1977 to adopt the “best available retrofit technology” to improve visibility within 186 miles. Each state was given the chore of doing that analysis.

EPA accepted state proposals for cutting sulfur dioxide and particulates. But it rejected the state’s analysis of costs versus benefits for NOx.

Read more at AZStarNet