Visiting the Grand Canyon is the trip of a lifetime. Trying to take in the natural beauty of the Southwest through a nitrogen oxide haze is a total bummer. To avoid this scenario the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed an emissions cut for the coal-firing Navajo Generating Station power plant, located on the Navajo Nation about 20 miles from the Grand Canyon. The proposal aims to reduce emissions by 84% by 2018, with selective catalytic reduction technology and voluntarily installed low-nitrogen-oxide burners. Nitrogen oxide reacts with other chemicals in the air to form ozone and has been associated with respiratory problems.
The proposal will undergo a 90-day public comment period once its been published in the Federal Register. In a press release, the EPA said the time-frame could include an additional five years, pushing the deadline to 2023, if other options that satisfy the Clean Air Act and achieve additional emissions reductions are put forth.
Power plants and coal mining have regularly been disputed in recent years. In 2008, a permit to mine coal for the Navajo Generating Station on Navajo grounds was fought against by Navajo and Hopi activists, and a suit in 2012 was brought against the federal government regarding the expansion of BHP Billiton’s Navajo Coal Mine.
An 84% reduction in emissions is nothing to scoff at, but it is a far cry from Ontario’s nearly complete abandonment of coal-fired power stations. And how’d those Canadians get away from coal? By implementing feed-in tariffs for clean energy and emphasizing efficiency efforts.