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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