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Final Regional Haze Rule Provides Greater Emission Reductions and Certainty for Arizona Water and Power Customers

For more information: Crystal Thompson, Central Arizona Project, (602) 321-9349, Vickie Patton, EDF (720) 837-6239, Linus Everling, GRIC (520) 562-9763, Stephen Etsitty, Navajo Nation (505) 870-6595, Scott Harelson, SRP (602) 236-2500, Jessica Kershaw, DOI (202) 208-6416, John Nielsen, Western Resource Advocates (303) 885-8099

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued a final regional haze rule under the Clean Air Act that provides for an emission-reduction plan for the Navajo Generating Station (NGS).  The final rule incorporates major elements of the proposal by the Technical Work Group (TWG) that had recommended alternatives for the plant with greater emissions reductions than the Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) proposal.  EPA had specifically requested public comment on alternative approaches that addressed the complex issues at the plant, and the agency held a public comment period and public hearings on the TWG recommendations.  

While the rule is lengthy and will require a detailed review, members of the Technical Work Group expressed appreciation that the EPA’s final rule reflects the TWG’s “better-than-BART” recommendations.  The TWG consists of representatives from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the 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 TWG recommendations were the best possible of all the proposed alternatives that were ‘better than BART’,” said Stephen B. Etsitty, executive director of the Navajo Nation EPA.  “This alternative not only saves crucial jobs and keeps vital revenue on the Navajo Nation, but opens the door to new low-emitting energy development pursuant to the agreement.”

“EPA’s action provides the path forward for a more comprehensive solution to achieve cleaner air, climate security and a stronger clean-energy economy,” said Vickie Patton, General Counsel at Environmental Defense Fund.  “Today’s plan recognizes the roadmap to secure cleaner air at the Grand Canyon and surrounding communities, to cut climate pollution and protect scarce water resources, and to move forward with the vital transition from coal to strong clean energy economic development for the affected Tribes.”

“We are very pleased that EPA has accepted the TWG agreement,” said Steve Michel, Chief Counsel with Western Resource Advocates.  “This agreement provides a wonderful example of how thoughtful people can work through their differences and develop an outcome that reduces regional haze, provides clean energy economic development and addresses climate change.”     

The EPA issued an initial BART proposal for Navajo Generating Station in February 2013.  In recognition of the importance of NGS and the unique circumstances surrounding the plant – including its significance to municipal and agricultural water users in Arizona and tribal economies – EPA also invited the submittal of alternative proposals that would achieve the same or greater emissions reductions as EPA’s initial proposals.

In response to EPA’s invitation, the TWG worked to address a range of concerns of many parties and to reach an agreement on recommendations. It developed a “better?than?BART” alternative plan that achieves overall greater NOx emission reductions than EPA’s proposal. The TWG Alternative also provides the additional benefit of multi-pollutant reductions, including carbon dioxide and hazardous air pollutants, through a transition for part of the plant or other actions to achieve comparable emissions reductions.

Additionally, the TWG agreement includes a variety of commitments from the Department of Interior that provide significant environmental, clean energy and economic benefits beyond those associated with regional haze.  These benefits include 27 million megawatt-hours of new clean energy with a focus on providing economic development for affected tribes, and a commitment from the Interior Department to reduce or offset by 3 percent each year, carbon dioxide emissions associated with NGS power used to service Central Arizona Project (CAP).

“EPA’s decision to uphold the principles of the historic agreement reached by our diverse group of partners will help improve air quality while minimizing the chances of an abrupt closure of the Navajo Generating Station,” said Michael Connor, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. “The decision facilitates a long-term transition to a clean energy economy, laying the groundwork for energy sources that will help cut carbon pollution.”

“Today the EPA selected the best of the alternatives that the agency was considering for NGS,” said Gila River Indian Community Governor Gregory Mendoza.  “While there is still much work to be done, we commend EPA on recognizing its legal and trust obligations concerning CAP water delivery, and the extreme environmental, social and economic ramifications for tribes such as the Community if NGS were to abruptly close.”

“We are pleased that the EPA has incorporated the TWG proposal into the final rule,” said Mike Hummel, associate general manager and chief power system executive at Salt River Project.  “Providing the necessary time for the installation of additional controls will allow for continued operation of the plant and the benefits it brings to our customers, the Navajo Nation and the state of Arizona. We will continue to work diligently with the other NGS participants on the necessary agreements for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and NV Energy to exit the plant.”

“We applaud the decision by the EPA to pattern this BART rule after the TWG proposal,” stated CAP Board President Pamela Pickard.  “CAP is the primary water provider for the region where the majority of Arizona’s population lives.  NGS provides more than 90 percent of CAP’s energy.  The BART rule provides certainty that NGS will continue to provide that power for decades.”

The EPA conducted several public comment sessions throughout the state on the EPA’s initial BART proposal, as well as the TWG Alternative, and reviewed 77,000 written comments in reaching the decision issued today.

NGS is a 2,250-megawatt, coal-fired power plant located just outside of Page, Ariz., on the Navajo Reservation. The plant is operated by Salt River Project.  The other participants in Navajo Generating Station include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Public Service Co., Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Tucson Electric Power Co. and NV Energy.