(Boulder, CO) July 3, 2012 – Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is praising a new proposal that would help clear the air and protect public health in Arizona and across the Southwest.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed protective limits on smog- and haze-inducing pollution from three aging coal plants in Arizona. The proposal will provide important health and tourism benefits while clearing the air at iconic national parks such as the Grand Canyon.
“EPA’s plan provides critical health protections for Arizona’s citizens, and moves us towards Congress’ goal of providing crisp, clear views for families discovering the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Saguaro National Park,” said EDF Attorney Pamela Campos.
The coal plants covered by EPA’s plan — Cholla, Coronado, and Apache — have dramatic impacts on visibility, impairing the air quality in these revered national parks. Cholla, in particular, has the biggest cumulative impact on clear views in a national park of any facility in the American West.
Today’s proposal ensures protective limits on pollution from these plants. That in turn ensures smog- and haze-forming nitrogen oxides pollution is reduced by 17,000 tons per year, reduces the health burden on the nearly five million people who visit the Grand Canyon each year, and provides crisper views at this iconic American site.
Eleven million tourists visit Arizona’s national parks each year, providing $700 million in economic benefits to the state.
In today’s action, EPA also proposed to approve Arizona’s plan for reducing haze-inducing sulfur dioxide and particulate pollution. Under EPA’s proposed plan, Cholla and Apache would be required to install state-of-the-art modern pollution controls for nitrogen oxides, already in common use in other parts of the country.
For Cholla, the proposal builds on voluntary emissions reductions measures implemented several years ago by Arizona Public Service. Coronado, already required to install modern equipment, would have to adhere to a protective emission limit met by a number of other plants nation-wide.
Today’s action is part of a nation-wide effort to implement, after much delay, air quality protections for national parks and wilderness areas. EPA’s proposal will clear the air in parks from the Petrified Forest and Superstition Wilderness in Arizona to the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico.
The proposal also provides an opportunity to transition older power plants, such as Cholla, to cleaner sources of energy. A bipartisan and broadly supported plan in Colorado is accomplishing just that, and the Arizona Corporation Commission has already called on Arizona’s largest utility to undergo an integrated review of economic and environmental risks associated with its coal fleet.
“Arizona’s citizens deserve clean air, clear views and safe, clean energy. Today’s announcement takes an important step in that direction,” said Campos.