Climate + Energy

Please EPA, Stay Strong on San Juan Generating Station

WildEarth Guardians joined a coalition of conservation, sportsman, and health groups today in calling on the Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA, to follow through with its proposal to clean up New Mexico’s San Juan Generating Station.

The EPA’s plan came in response to New Mexico’s failure to develop a legally adequate clean up plan earlier this year for the coal-fired power plant located west of Farmington, New Mexico.  Since then, Public Service Company of New Mexico, also known as PNM, and the State of New Mexico, have attempted to use politics to derail the EPA’s reasonable clean air strategy.  It’s not surprising:  the New Mexico Environment Department hand in hand with PNM met with EPA on March 8, March 22, and March 29, 2011, all in an effort to convince them to abandon their clean air plans.

The whole thing is crazy because the New Mexico Environment Department originally supported a strong clean up plan at the San Juan Generating Station, urging that selective catalytic reduction be used to limit nitrogen oxide emissions at the coal-fired power plant’s four boilers.  Nitrogen oxides contribute to smog, haze, and even acid rain.  Of course, that was before Susana Martinez, a right-winger, took over as Governor of New Mexico.  At the March 22 meeting with EPA, Raj Solomon with the New Mexico Environment Department noted:

Mr. Solomon mentioned there was a new administration in New Mexico with a new Board and that the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) BART determination had been revised from a determination that SCR was BART to one in which SNCR was BART.

SNCR is selective noncatalytic reduction, which is a second tier control technology that is cheaper and achieves minimal reductions in air pollution.  It’s like using a sock to reduce air pollution from your car’s tailpipe.  Consider that under New Mexico’s plan, nitrogen oxides would by reduced by around 20%, yet under EPA’s proposal, they would be reduced by more than 80%.

Thankfully, while the New Mexico Environment Department together with PNM are playing games with clean air, the EPA seems poised to do what’s necessary to safeguard public health and the environment.  According to a legal consent decree with WildEarth Guardians, the EPA has to finalize its clean air plan by August 5th.  So far, things seem on course.  Together with our partners, we sincerely hope the EPA stays on course to finalize its retrofit plan in order to pave the way for cleaner energy.  Our health and our environment depends on it.


The San Juan Generating Station, an 1,800 megawatt coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

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