Proposed Navajo Nation coal-fired power plant dealt setback by feds

Opponents of coal-fired power plants around the country were buoyed by a decision Friday to send the proposed 1,500-megawatt Desert Rock facility near Shiprock, N.M., back to the Environmental Protection Agency for a new air-pollution permit, according to the Durango Herald.

The paper Saturday reported the EPA originally issued a permit in 2008, but this spring – under a new administration – appealed to the Environmental Appeals Board for permission to rescind the permit. That permission was granted Friday.

“People are going to be combing through this order and thinking long and hard about what it might mean for any new power plants that might be proposed,” Earthjustice lawyer Janette Brimmer told the Herald. “I think this just indicates a new day for these power plants.”

The Shiprock plant was proposed by Sithe Global and Diné Power Authority, which is owned by the Navajo Nation. “Desert Rock is a way to shake the Navajo Nation out of the economic malaise it’s been in,” Navajo Nation spokesman George Hardeen said. “This is yet another delay that will hold the Navajo people back.”

The appeals board told the EPA it should have considered a redesign of Desert Rock as a cleaner-burning power plant called an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, which captures carbon dioxide before it’s released into the atmosphere.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

David O. Williams is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy,
environmental and political issues for the Colorado Independent since
2008, delivering impact journalism on a wide range of topics. A former
editor for the Vail Daily and Vail Trail, Williams’ work also has
appeared in numerous publications since 1988, including the New York
Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He appears periodically as a
guest on Rocky Mountain PBS and David Sirota’s show on 760 AM in
Denver. Williams is the founder, part owner and editor of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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