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Agreement Puts Utah Power Plant on Road to Retirement

October 6, 2015
Jeremy Nichols (303) 437-7663
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
Denver–Today, WildEarth Guardians, the Sierra Club,the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Deseret Power Electric Cooperative announced an agreement to protect clean air and resolve the future of the Bonanza Power Plant, a 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant in northeastern Utah.

The agreement includes limits on the amount of coal that can be burned limits pollution rates for the remaining life of the plant.

“This is a big step forward for clean energy and the climate,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “By phasing out coal, this agreement stands to reduce carbon emissions, limit smog forming pollution, make significant strides to protect public health, and put clean, affordable energy first. This is fundamentally a win-win agreement.”

“All the parties involved put a lot of hard work into this agreement,” said Nellis Kennedy-Howard, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “This agreement will protect public health in the surrounding region by reducing the amount harmful, smog-forming pollutants released into the air each year. Over the remaining life of the plant, coal will continue to become less competitive in the energy market. Putting a lifetime limit on coal consumption gives Deseret the opportunity to create a plan to replace Bonanza with energy sources that will be cleaner, safer, and more cost-effective than coal.”

The agreement resolves outstanding appeals filed over the Bonanza Power Plant’s Clean Air Act Operating Permit, which was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year after years of delay and a lawsuit from WildEarth Guardians. The Bonanza Plant, located 35 miles southeast of Vernal, Utah, was upgraded in2000 without legally required pollution controls.

The Bonanza Power Plant is the largest single source of air pollution in northeastern Utah’s Uinta Basin. Every year, its 600-foot tall smokestack spews more than 3.5 million of tons of harmful air pollution, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other toxic compounds such as mercury. The plant is located on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation and is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In today’s agreement,Deseret agreed to upgrade its pollution controls in 2016 and to limit lifetime coal consumption to no more than 20 million tons starting in 2020. The Bonanza Plant currently burns around two million tons of coal annually.

In exchange,WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club agreed to drop their appeals and to refrain from challenging future operation of the plant.

Under the Clean Air Act, the settlement must be subject to public notice and an opportunity to comment before it can become final. A notice is expected by the end of the month.


Other Contact
April Thomas, Sierra Club, april.thomas@sierraclub.org, 206.321.3850