Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Decision on Navajo's coal-fired plant expected

The EPA is under court order to issue a decision on permitting a 750-megawatt coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation near Shiprock, NM by July 31. The state of New Mexico and some Navajos are fighting the plant, arguing it will produce mercury and greenhouse gases.

The Desert Rock power plant is a joint venture between the Navajo Nation and a New York based company, that's expected to bring $50 million per year in revenues to the tribe. The state argues that EPA cannot possibly respond to 1200 public comments on air quality by the deadline. The new plant is touted as being cleaner than any of the other 3 coal-fired plants in the region. The plant is expected to burn 6.25 million tons of coal per year, mined from the nearby Navajo Mine.

This could be a test of the EPA's position on carbon dioxide as a pollutant, a conclusion made by the courts but not embraced by EPA. A lot of folks will be watching Thursday.

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