Experts Praise Decision to Reduce Pollution from One of the Dirtiest Power Plants in the Western U.S.

Cleaning Up New Mexico Plant Will Improve Air Quality, Protect Public Health, Improve National Parks across the West

August 5, 2011
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NEWS RELEASE

(Boulder, CO – August 5, 2011) Western U.S. experts on energy and the environment are praising today's decision to reduce the dangerous air pollution from one of America's oldest and dirtiest coal plants.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just announced new, protective emission limitations on pollution from the San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico. The coal plant emits more than 5,500 tons of sulfur dioxide and 18,300 tons of nitrogen oxide each year.

Sulfur dioxide contributes to particulate pollution, which can be dangerous to human health – and sometimes even deadly. Nitrogen oxide is a key ingredient in the formation of ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog. In addition to the health hazards they cause, smog and particulate pollution also create a haze that obscures scenic vistas in our national parks, which can ruin Americans' ability to enjoy some of our greatest natural resources.

"EPA's action to clean up the San Juan Generating Station will protect public health, and will also help clear the haze at Mesa Verde National Park and our other cherished wilderness areas in the Four Corners region," said Pamela Campos of Environmental Defense Fund's Rocky Mountain office. "Today's decision sets a strong precedent for reducing coal plant pollution, protecting our families' health, and preserving our parks around the country."

The new rules will reduce both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollutions from the San Juan Generating Station; emissions of nitrogen oxide pollution will be reduced by more than 80 percent over a five year period. In addition, EPA's plan will reduce by half the plant's contribution to haze pollution in national parks such as Mesa Verde, Bandelier, and Grand Canyon National Park.

"We are pleased that EPA has not bowed to corporate pressure and is protecting our air quality and beautiful landscapes and vistas for ourselves and our children", said Steve Michel, Chief Counsel for Western Resource Advocates' Energy Program.

The Four Corners area currently gets failing grades for air quality from the American Lung Association. Under the new rule, the San Juan Generating Station will use the most efficient technology available to reduce air pollution and improve air quality across the region.