EPA war on coal threatens Tucson water supply

NGSmapMuch of Southern Arizona’s water supply comes via the Central Arizona Project (CAP) which takes water from the Colorado River at Lake Havasu, and distributes it over 300 miles of canal and 3,000 feet up in elevation to Tucson (see map below). Electricity for the 14 pumping stations comes from the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station (NGS) near Page, Arizona. That station supplies 2,250 megawatts from three 750-MW units. The coal comes from the Kayenta mine on the Navajo Reservation 78 miles southeast of the station. The mine is operated by Peabody Western Coal Company. The electric plant is under fire from the EPA, for among other things, air quality in the Grand Canyon. The plant may fall victim to the EPA’s war on coal (see here, here, here, and here for commentary.)

According to a report from KSL.com, “Owners of the Navajo Generating Station say an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to clear the air in the region’s national parks may push the plant into an unacceptable financial situation. They’ve indicated it could force a shutdown as early as 2017.” “A shutdown of the plant would put nearly 1,000 people out of work on the Navajo Indian Reservation that is already deeply mired in unemployment and poverty.” “The owners insist they cannot spend more than $1 billion on environmental improvements without a guarantee they’ll be allowed to operate beyond 2019. The owners are several public agencies and utilities, including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Tucson Electric Power and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.”

Critics allege that emissions from the plant contribute to regional haze. However, even if the plant builds the required upgrades, there is no guarantee that the change in haze would be noticeable.

According to information from the Salt River Project, one of the owners of the plant, “NGS complies with all federal air quality standards and emission limitations. Electrostatic precipitators capture 99% of the fly ash, which is recycled for use in concrete, cement and other construction materials. Limestone scrubbers remove over 90% of SO2 emissions. Installation of low NOx burners and separated overfire air technology reduces NOx emissions by approximately 40%.”

The new “haze” rule from EPA could cause NGS to shut down, eliminating a major contributor to the economy of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the city of Page, Coconino County, and the state of Arizona. And, a shutdown would stop the pumps supplying water to Southern Arizona. The EPA ‘haze” rule will cause three of five generators at the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant in northwest New Mexico to shut down also.

Remember, during the 2008 presidential campaign candidate Obama said, “that under his cap-and-trade plan, “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” (CNN) Also during the 2008 campaign Joe Biden said the Obama policy was “no coal plants here in America.” (Arizona Daily Star).

In contrast to Obama policy, Germany is building 23 new coal-fire plants. Although Germany is a leader in solar energy installation, they need the coal plants because they found that solar energy is unreliable and too expensive.

Maybe the war on coal is a plan to create jobs.  Obama could hire thousands of people to form bucket brigades to move water along the CAP canal.


See also:

EPA fuel standards costly and ineffective

EPA, ethanol, and catch 22


  1. Regulatory policy again hits the navajo nation hard in more ways than one. What I don’t get is how other’s don’t really see what it is that they’re taking away from a population. Plants in Navajo
    nation employ people in some towns who can earn up to 2.7x the average
    income of 20,000 which in places like that is a lot of money that can go a long
    way(http://bit.ly/No4kR3). The threats on closing these facilities couldn’t really come at a worse time for anyone. There needs to be some kind of a reality check about how the EPA is affecting more than just the enviornment.

  2. Just drove through the Navajo Nation and I can’t see why a solar project isn’t already up and running to help power those pump stations. They were put in a hell hole and are trying to make the best of it and we ‘helped’ them build a coal fired plant that is just an added blight to the area. What would your position be if they had built this say in Casa Grande? Wouldn’t be so anti EPA then would ya?

    1. That “added blight” provides jobs that otherwise would not be there. Also solar plants can’t provide electricity 24/7. I would not mind a coal plant in Casa Grande, but I’m guess natural gas is cheaper right now.

    2. EPA is a group of ENVIRONAZIS and solar is a joke, just like wind generation. Tree huggers, earth muffins and the ‘green’ agenda’ is a blight and DOES NOT create jobs and just waste’s our tax dollars. We should and can drill, mine, use coal, NG, nuclear, all of our resources until the so called ‘green crap’ actually works and is AFFORDABLE. I lived in Northern Arizona for years going back to 1971 and there has always been haze.
      To hell with obama and the EPA. This is the TRUE blight on America!

  3. So, they’re already meeting all the air quality standards and emissions standards, and now this rogue agency comes up with a “haze” rule as a basis for shutting down an important electric power plant? What does EPA want us to do, drink sand? Wonder how much visual blight could be expected from acres and acres of glass and glitter of an equal capacity solar powered project?

  4. Why did they put in a coal fired plant there? Because it’s next to a coal deposit morons. Solar is a joke and an envirnmental disaster. Vast acres of solar pannels that distroy habitat for everything and generate a fraction of the power of coal NG or atomic. Guess what else is plentifull in that region that we could and should use to make the power we need? Uranium. Build a nuke plant or four up there put people to work sell the power make tons of non casino money on the rez.

  5. So, they (EPA & Obama administration Nazis) want to shut down coal & coal fired electric generation plants. They don’t want fracking to access natural gas. No Keystone pipes. They hate carbon based fuels- period. The question that is not addressed or answered by the EPA or any tree hugger is what is going to replace these plants the day they are shut down. Wind and solar cannot replace the megawatts that will be lost and are far from meeting the demand. The grid is reliant on strategically placed coal fired, hydro and atomic generators and once taken off-line, it throws the grid into chaos and if enough are taken off-line, brown and blackouts will be a fact of everyday life.
    According to Robert Murry of Murry Energy, coal-fired electric generation cost approx 6 cents a kwh. Wind and solar costs 22 cents plus a kwh. Furthermore, he stated that electric futures contracts for 2015-2016 were bought in June 2012 for 800% over todays kwh price. In other words, if your electric bill is $100 today, it will be $800 in 2015-16. He also stated that China is building coal-fired electric generation plants at the rate of 5-6 a month while we have taken about a dozen off line so far. He asked “which way does the wind blow- which way does the earth turn” meaning that China will be polluting the atmosphere far more than we are currently but that does not bother this administration. The question this raises is what is the real agenda here? I believe in my heart that they intend to redistibute the wealth through excessive enregy costs via the americans wallet.
    Folks, we are in a heap of trouble here. I would suggest the tree huggers and EPA officials help the situation by disconnecting thier home power lines, sell thier cars, walk, bike, or take a jackass EVERYWHERE. Oh, no trains, airplanes or ships either. These people need a planet of thier own.
    This is part of the United Nation’s Agenda 21. The Grand Canyon is a UN Biosphere (not ours anymore) as well as Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Great Smokey Mountians and many more around the globe.They want to turn these places and more back to the state they were in 1850. They want to force all of us to live in massive urban areas with mass transit and self sustainability- welcome to Utopia. This is the hope, change and transformation that was spoken about 3.5 years ago.

  6. Cause coal is the only way to produce power. This is just a way for them to avoid costs by looking p9olitical back lash. If they want to mess up the environment and avoid using another power option then I blame them if my water supply goes dry. They made clear they had the money to build another power source. They just don’t want to until 2019.

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