The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lori Goodman, Diné CARE, 970-259-0199
Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, 505-360-8994
Nicholas Persampieri, Attorney, Earthjustice, 303-996-9617
Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332

EPA Seeks To Remand Permit for Desert Rock Coal Plant

Advocates: ‘It’s A Good Day for the 4 Corners’


In a positive move for the health and environment of the entire Four Corners region, the Environmental Protection Agency
is seeking to retract the permit for the proposed Desert Rock 1500 MW
coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.

The remand request came after a coalition of environmental,
conservation and Navajo groups petitioned the EPA on grounds that the
permit was inadequate to protect health and the environment.

The plant would impose a massive industrial complex on the
landscape, douse the region with air pollutants, strain critical water
resources, and release some 650 million tons of greenhouse gases over
its 50-year operational life. Although some leaders of the Navajo
Nation endorsed the plant, Navajo citizens, including the group Dine CARE, represented by Earthjustice,
have been actively opposed to Desert Rock because it represents another
50 years of dirty coal that has plagued the reservation since the 1960s.

"We are hopeful that the Navajo Tribal Council will finally start to
understand that another dirty coal plant is the last thing needed for
the long term benefit of our land and our people," said Lori Goodman of
Dine CARE. "We are fortunate to live in a place that is rich in clean
renewable energy resources. That is where we need to go."

"We're obviously quite happy with this decision," said Mike Eisenfeld of the San Juan Citizen's Alliance.
"We have been working very hard for four years to alert our partners
and local decision makers about the inadequacies and failures of the
Desert Rock permit. This is simply another sign that this ill-begotten
coal burner is not viable in today's environment and under the new
administration, and we hope that Sithe Global will finally realize that
if they want to continue in the energy business, there are cleaner
alternatives out there."

"EPA Region 9 now agrees with what those opposed to Desert Rock have
been saying for years," said Nicholas Persampieri, attorney for
Earthjustice. "Analysis of the plant's adverse impacts, including the
impacts of its mercury and fine particulate emissions, sufficient to
ensure protection of human health and the environment has not been

"We are encouraged by the policy developments signaled in EPA's motion," said Ann Weeks, attorney for Clean Air Task Force,
and of counsel to several of the petitioning groups. "Clean Air Act
permit reviews must include comprehensive evaluation of the
technologies that could reduce the full range of coal pollutants linked
to premature death and disease including greenhouse gases, air toxics,
solid waste and other air and water pollution. The record in this case
clearly demonstrates that evaluating all electricity generating
technology approaches at this site is warranted."

The Navajo Reservation is already home to the 2,100 megawatt Four
Corners coal plant. The 1,800 MW San Juan Generating Station is just
15 miles away. These plants are considered two of the dirtiest
coal-fired power plants in the nation and have had dramatic impacts to
the reservation and the entire four corners region in terms of
particulates, sulfur dioxide and mercury pollution.

"Fortunately for the communities, lands, including 27 national
parks, and other resources in the region, EPA's request signals hope
for better air quality protections and the potential to replace dirty
coal power with clean, renewable energy solutions," said Karen
Hevel-Mingo, National Parks Conservation Association Southwest Program