An ongoing battle between a Native American tribe and a Nevada coal plant is really starting to heat up. The Moapa Band of Paiute Indians has been trying to force the closure of the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant, located outside Las Vegas, for years.
Recently, the tribe filed suit against NV energy — claiming that from 2006 to 2011 the company submitted false reports to the state concerning the pollution levels near the plant and received no penalty for doing so.
The president of the Indian tribe, William Anderson, says that NV energy has deceived the state by submitting false reports about airborne pollution levels near the plant to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and has created health risks to the 320 members of the tribe that live near the plant.
According to Anderson: “It turns out NV Energy wasn’t even measuring the pollution, so we have no gauge on the extent of the threat families here have been exposed to.”
The chief executive of NV energy did admit that a contractor measuring fine pollution particles near the plant found some “irregularities” back in July 2011. But claimed, “any reports that NV Energy falsified any documents or reports are patently false.”
According to the Associated Press;
Yackira maintained that the 557-megawatt plant 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas never failed to meet federal and state smokestack emission standards over the five-year span, and he dismissed assertions that the plant spews toxic pollution that threatens the health of nearby Moapa community residents.
“The Reid Gardner Station has continuous emissions monitoring in place for all regulated air pollutants and has been and remains in substantial compliance with all regulatory requirements,” he said.
The Moapa Band of Paiute Indians have filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection officials, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, and NV Energy. The tribe plans to file the lawsuit in the US District Court in Las Vegas seeking damages and an injunction against the company.
The Moapa tribe’s lawyer, Joshua Osborne-Klein, said that “the tribe and many voices in this community have been calling for the plant to be shut down. The tribe wants an agreement leading to a timeline for shutdown of Reid Gardner.”
The Environmental Protection Division looked at the faulty data by the Environmental Monitoring Company and stated that “It wasn’t falsified … It just kept going over the same numbers.”
Although this data wasn’t needed for the power plant to be in compliance with the EPA emission standards, since compliance is based on smokestack emissions measurements that showed no violation of air quality over the same five years.
The Reid Gardner power plant was built in the 1960s and ’70s and is reaching the end of its life span. It is one of two remaining coal-fired power plants in Nevada. NV energy also has seven gas-fired plants and more than 40 renewable energy projects. The Reid Gardner plant will be decommissioned eventually or transferred to natural gas. But, with the efforts put forth by the Moapa Paiute tribe it maybe sooner.
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