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Utah Coal-fired Power Plant Finally Faces Clean Air Clean-up
“This is a big step forward in holding coal accountable to clean air,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director. “The Bonanza power plant has for too long put the cost of its air pollution on the shoulders of westerners. Thankfully, this is finally changing.”
The Bonanza coal-fired power plant is located in northeastern Utah in a region called the Uinta Basin. The 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant and its 600 foot-tall smokestack was constructed in the early 1980’s and is the largest source of air pollution in the region.
Every year, the plant 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 the early 2000’s, the plant’s coal burning capacity was increased. Under the Clean Air Act, this required the plant’s owner, Deseret Power Cooperative, to install up-to-date pollution controls. Deseret failed to do so and has since been emitting unchecked.
The permit proposed today would require Deseret to secure new pollution limits in order to continue operating. The long overdue permit was required as of 1990, but is only being proposed today after WildEarth Guardians filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency over illegal delay. The proposed permit and supporting information is available here online.
“Deseret’s free pass to pollute is over with,” said Nichols. “This long over due permit will finally ensure the Bonanza power plant’s dangerous air pollution is curtailed. That’s great news for clean energy.”
In its basis for the permit, the Environmental Protection Agency explains that a previously issued permit for the Bonanza plant failed to include “best available control technology” requirements for nitrogen oxide emissions. Nitrogen oxides are poisonous gases that create haze, smog, and particulate pollution.
Other coal-fired power plants in the American West, including in Utah, have had to curb their nitrogen oxide emissions, but Bonanza, until now, has not. The proposal today would require Deseret to apply for a new permit and comply with tougher emission limits.
Public comment on the proposed permit is now being requested until June 16. The Environmental Protection Agency has also scheduled a public hearing in Fort Duchesne on the evening of June 3.
WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild rivers, and wild places of the American West. Through its Climate and Energy Program, the organization works to safeguard clean air from fossil fuels. Guardians has offices throughout the West, including in Salt Lake City.