As a followup to a previous post: “The EPA is destroying America,” I will focus today on the issue of haze in the Grand Canyon.
The EPA is targeting the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in regard to its emissions of nitrogen oxides. The EPA is insisting that NGS install “selective catalytic reduction” to control nitrogen oxides, at an added cost of $48 million per year, even though, just two years ago, the plant installed devices to control nitrogen oxides. This EPA action is of particular concern to Southern Arizona because NGS supplies the electricity to run pumps that provide water via the Central Arizona Project Canal (See more here.)
The story below demonstrates the perfidy of the EPA in its war on coal, its possible collusion with environmental groups, and there is even a connection to President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior. First, let’s look at the composition of haze in the Grand Canyon.
In the chart below, compiled from data produced by the Western Regional Air Partnership (part of the Western Governor’s Association), we see that nitrogen oxide emissions from electrical generating stations represent only about 1 percent of the constituents of haze in the Grand Canyon. Most haze is a combination of soot, dust and sulfates.
In the pie chart above, we see that nitrates constitute about 8% of haze. The bar chart, if it is to proportional scale, indicates that nitrates from power plants (see asterisk) comprise about 13% of total nitrates, therefore nitrate contribution to total haze is about 1% (8% of 13% = 1%). See here for a clearer view of the chart. The EPA is, therefore, imposing a very expensive requirement to target less than one percent of the problem. As I’ve point out in another article, the EPA’s solution will have no effect on Grand Canyon haze (see: “EPA versus Arizona on regional haze issue“). It appears that the EPA attack on the Navajo Generating Station is part of the administration’s war on coal. See more on the Navajo Generating Station here and specifics on emissions control equipment here.
There have been many wild fires and controlled burn fires near the Grand Canyon, all of which contribute to the haze. In fact, the National Park Service (NPS) has a Facebook page on the subject on which they show several photos. Ironically, NPS celebrates smoke in the Canyon as “a photographer’s paradise::
“Fire has always played a role in the ecology of the high altitude forests of the Grand Canyon’s rims. The mixed conifer forests of the North Rim are dependent on fire. Natural fires burn low to ground, clearing out the down and dead wood on the forest floor. Fire creates a mosaic of burned and unburned vegetation, these openings and gaps on the landscape provide habitat for forest animals enriching the diversity of life a healthy forest needs. Prescribed fire is one tool park managers use to maintain a healthy forest ecosystem. Prescribed fires can smolder for days or even weeks creating smoke that lifts in high plumes during the day and sinks into the canyon at night. Smoke in the canyon may seem like a bummer, but in fact creates dynamic, beautiful vistas. Grand Canyon, regardless of conditions, is a photographer’s paradise.”
There is another curious connection. An environmental group, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), has a hit piece on the Navajo Generating Station. Within that article is a video which shows a hazy Grand Canyon and the article strongly implies that the haze is due to emissions from the station. However, that video was filmed during the past summer when there were fires in the area contributing to the haze. The people featured in the video also belong to Diné Care, a Navajo environmental group that is fighting the generating station although the Navajo people as a whole value the station for jobs and income. Navajo President Ben Shelly, recently said in a public statement and in testimony before Congress, “I still think that the federal government has placed too much of an emphasis on visibility in contrast to the costs of compliance and the potential economic ripple effects. I sincerely hope that any ripple effects of this proposal will not result in immediate drastic impacts to our Navajo workers employed at NGS and the mine. Unfortunately, some federal rulemakings result in economic impacts that are hard to recover from. I hope this will not be the case here.”
I suppose that in the realm of political advocacy, truth is optional.
Another interesting confluence: President Obama has nominated Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of the Interior. Ms. Jewell has been a long-standing member of the board of the National Parks Conservation Association. It’s a small world.
It seems that the EPA is again colluding with environmental groups and manufacturing an issue to serve a specific purpose.
P.S. The Wall Street Journal has an article on Sally Jewell here.
“The president knows he can rely on Ms. Jewell to do for the federal government exactly what she’s done at an activist level: Lock up land, target industries, kill traditional jobs.”
Update: CAP officials discuss impact of EPA action, see story in Arizona Daily Star here.