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Opponents push to shutter coal plant near Vegas
by Associated Press
Apr 04, 2012 | 844 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LAS VEGAS (AP) — An Indian tribe and an environmental group are calling for federal officials to abandon a proposed rule that opponents say would extend the life of a coal-burning power plant near Las Vegas.

The Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Sierra Club are fighting a proposed Environmental Protection Agency order that would let NV Energy Inc. install new emission controls and continue operating the nearly 50-year-old Reid Gardner Generating Station in Moapa.

In a statement, tribal Chairman William Anderson called the EPA proposal an “injustice” for nearby residents suffering asthma and ill health from pollution from the plant.

The EPA proposal, issued Monday, would require NV Energy to install nitrogen oxide burners instead of more expensive selective catalytic emissions scrubbers, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Regulators stopped short of ordering an expensive retrofit that could make it more economical to close the plant.

Jane Feldman, conservation chairwoman for the Sierra Club in southern Nevada, called the EPA’s proposal a “second-rate solution” for an “old, dirty technology that belongs in the previous century.”

“What we’re looking for is to make a difference for public health and to move forward on clean, renewable energy,” Feldman said.

Opponents contend emissions from smokestacks and blowing dust from a coal ash landfill at the 557-megawatt plant are polluting the air and water and causing health problems for nearby residents.

In a letter sent Tuesday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Anderson said failure to impose more stringent controls “constitutes a renewed environmental injustice” that will “consign my people to unnecessary disease and early death.” The tribe has 300 members, roughly half of whom live on the reservation near the plant astride the Muddy River.

In December, the EPA accepted most of Nevada’s plan to meet federal Clean Air Act regional haze requirements. But the agency also took a closer look at Reid Gardner.

NV Energy says the four-unit plant, which began service with one unit in 1965, provides enough electricity to power 335,000 Nevada households.

Starla Lacy, company environmental health and safety chief, called the proposed EPA rule a “win-win” for ratepayers and the environment because it will allow Reid Gardner to meet federal haze standards at about one-tenth the cost.

The EPA will accept public input on its proposed rule for the next 30 days. The agency plans to hold a public hearing on the proposal in early May.
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