Historic Roadmap for Cleaner Air at the Grand Canyon and Surrounding Communities, Carbon Pollution Reductions from the Navajo Generating Station and a Stronger Clean Energy Economy

July 26, 2013


Keith Gaby, EDF, kgaby@edf.org, 202-572-3336
Sharyn Stein, EDF, sstein@edf.org, 202-572-3396 
Jason Bane, Western Resource Advocates, jason.bane@westernresources.org, 720-763-3721

(July 26, 2013) Today, a coalition submitted a roadmap to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to achieve cleaner air at the Grand Canyon National Park and surrounding communities. The roadmap will also reduce reliance on coal at the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona, cut the carbon pollution from the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), and foster clean energy economic development.

The roadmap was developed through collaboration among diverse interests including the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Environmental Defense Fund, the Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation, Salt River Project (on behalf of itself and the other NGS owners), the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Western Resource Advocates.  

The roadmap addresses clean air protections under the nation’s clean air laws. In addition to the significant reductions in the pollution that impairs the Grand Canyon’s spectacular vistas, the plan lays out a pathway to develop clean energy resources, including crucial commitments by the Department of the Interior to further clean energy economic development for the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and Gila River Indian Community. 

Importantly, the plan also contains a commitment by the Department of the Interior to begin addressing climate change. The Department of the Interior will reduce or offset the carbon pollution associated with its NGS energy use by three percent per year, or 11.3 million metric tons.  An innovative, credit-based, carbon reduction program was developed to assure the carbon pollution reductions are genuine and accurately measured. The program is transparent and simple to administer, and is designed so that it can be replicated elsewhere.   

You can read the blueprint and a fact sheet about the blueprint on EDF’s website. The blueprint will be considered by EPA in a public proceeding involving public notice and comment. 

“Reaching this agreement was a challenging, but rewarding, process,” said John Nielsen, Energy Program Director for Western Resource Advocates. “The agreement balances complex and diverse issues and interests. The environmental benefits of this agreement are significant, and the progress toward addressing climate change is of utmost importance.”

“This is a comprehensive approach to protect scenic vistas at the Grand Canyon National Park while forging lasting clean energy solutions” said Bruce Polkowsky, a former EPA and National Park Service expert on clean air in the national parks who participated in the design of the plan.  

“This plan provides a roadmap to cleaner air, climate progress and a stronger clean energy economy,” said Vickie Patton, General Counsel at Environmental Defense Fund. “We had to work through some difficult issues but together we were able to develop an approach that provides for cleaner air at the Grand Canyon and surrounding communities, that begins a cost-effective clean energy transition at the Navajo Generating Station, and that provides for crucial clean energy economic development for the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and Gila River Indian Community.” 

Clean Air Protections Include Reducing Reliance on Coal

Proposed clean air measures to reduce oxides of nitrogen and carbon pollution:

Alternative A

  • Requires the NGS participants to cease coal generation on one unit or substantially reduce generation by January 1, 2020, depending on which ownership changes occur.
  • This alternative also requires the NGS participants to achieve the same amount of NOx emissions reductions as provided for under EPA’s BART proposal, while meeting a 30-day rolling average NOx emission rate limit of 0.07 lb/MMBtu on two units at NGS after installing SCR or an equivalent technology no later than December 31, 2030.

Alternative B

  • If the conditions for Alternative A are not met, Alternative B requires a reduction of NOx emissions equivalent to the shutdown of one Unit from 2020 to 2030.
  • This alternative also requires the submittal of annual Implementation Plans describing the operating scenarios to be used to achieve greater NOx emission reductions than EPA’s Proposed BART Rule as described below. 

Under either Alternative, NOx emissions will be maintained below the total 2009-2044 NOx emissions cap delineated by EPA.  The 2009-2044 NOx cap is calculated based on an annual emission rate of 0.055 lb/MMBtu using selective catalytic reduction.

Additional Commitments to Reduce Carbon Pollution and Foster Clean Energy Development for the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and Gila River Indian Community

  • Consistent with the President’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a commitment by the Interior Department to reduce the CO2 associated with the energy used to pump Central Arizona Project water by 3 percent annually for a total of 11.3 million metric tons to be achieved at NGS or through qualifying low emitting clean energy projects no later than December 31, 2035.  Interior’s commitment will be administered through an innovative credit-based CO2 tracking and accounting program that assures the reductions are accurately measured and genuine.
  • In furtherance of the President’s “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future” and to advance clean energy economic development that benefits the Indian tribes affected by NGS, the Interior Department will facilitate the development of Clean Energy Projects at a pace and scope to achieve 80% Clean Energy by 2035 for the U.S. share in NGS by securing approximately 26,975,000 MWh of Clean Energy Projects. The Interior Department will identify, prioritize and further low-emitting energy projects to benefit affected tribes, such as a 33 MW solar facility proposed by the Gila River Indian Community and local, community-based and large scale renewable energy projects within the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe.
  • A commitment by the Interior Department to carry out the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Phase 2 Study to analyze options for the future of NGS consistent with the goals of the Joint Statement issued by EPA, Interior, and the U.S. Department of Energy on January 4, 2013, including identifying options for replacing the federal share of energy from NGS with low-emitting energy resources.
  • A $5 million Local Benefit Fund for community improvement projects within 100 miles of NGS or the Kayenta Mine (which supplies coal to NGS).  Such projects could include coal or wood stove changeouts, local and community-based renewable energy projects, a partnership with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) to address electric or water distribution and other infrastructure needs near the plant and mine, or other projects that benefit families and communities in the vicinity of NGS and the Kayenta Mine and that are developed with input from the affected communities.
  • A commitment by the current owners of NGS to cease their operation of conventional coal-fired generation at NGS no later than December 22, 2044.

More information is available on the blueprint and the fact sheet.


Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. See twitter.com/EnvDefenseFundfacebook.com/EnvDefenseFund

Western Resource Advocates is a regional nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the West’s land, air, and water. Offices and staff are located in Boulder (CO), Phoenix and Tucson (AZ), Pocatello (ID), Santa Fe (NM), Carson City (NV) and Salt Lake City (UT). Go to www.WesternResourceAdvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @WRADV