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PAGE, ARIZONA US Congressman Jeff Flake told residents here that he is frustrated by federal Environmental Protection Agency decisions that cut the state out of the regulatory process, imposed billion dollar retrofits on power plants and threaten thousands of Arizona jobs.
The Navajo Generating Station completed the voluntary installation of $46 million
Low-NOx Burners that reduce the nitrogen oxide it produces by 40 percent.
More than 100 people filled the Page Senior Center Wednesday to meet the six--term Republican congressman and to hear what may be in store for their small town.
By September 20, the EPA is expected to announce its decision on pollution controls for the Navajo Generating Station that are intended to reduce regional haze.
“It affects not only us here in Page and the state, it's a lot more far-reaching.”
said Page Mayor Bill Diak.
“Whether or not you agree with being green, that's not the issue. The fact is whatever the EPA does, they don't have another replacement. They don't have another switch to turn on when they shut that one off.”
The EPA's Regional Haze Rule calls for the reduction of pollution from all sources to near background levels by the year 2064. The goal is to reduce nitrogen oxide missions to improve regional visibility in Class I areas, such as national parks and wilderness areas.
The EPA has required some power plants to install technology called Selective Catalytic Reduction at a cost of more than $1 billion. Last year, however, Navajo Generating Station completed the voluntary installation of $46 million Low-NOx Burners that reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide it produces by 40 percent.
Navajo Generating Station's six owners say they may be willing to add the more expensive controls if the EPA could allow them enough time to complete a five to six year federal environmental review process required by the Department of the Interior. Without that, they say, they may have to close the plant.
After having been delayed since spring, the EPA's decision on Navajo Generating Station is just two weeks away, said Paul Ostapuk , Navajo Generating Station environmental and safety manager.
“We're going to learn a lot on Sept.20,”
“If that proposal comes out and it has reasonable opportunity and gives us time and flexibility, then we know that they've heard the message. If it's more Draconian and says a billion dollars in five years, then that's a clear signal they don't want the plant to operate.”
That's what has Rep. Flake frustrated.
“There is a war on coal at the EPA. Let's call it for what it is,”
“And they're going to use anything they can, it seems, to push forward that war on coal.”
He said research demonstrates that power plants' contribution to the regional haze problem in the Grand Canyon is less than five percent. The rest is from other sources and from beyond the area.
“According to their own studies, they cannot guarantee that this Selective Catalytic Reduction fix would improve visibility at all, that it wouldn't be perceptible to the naked eye,”
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he said he's found federal agencies do not have to be accountable to Congress because they've learned they will be funded at the end of the year through an omnibus bill because the Senate cannot pass a budget.
“The EPA is, in my view, in many of these instances, going against the laws that we passed,”
“They simply are not taking into account the legislation from which they derive their powers, and gone far beyond it.”
He said the pattern has been for the EPA to ignore the State Implementation Plan that it is supposed to consider, go right to environmental groups, and enter into negotiations with them.
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posted September 11, 2012 8:20 am edt