EPA Ruling On Utah Power Plants Could Brighten Arizona Skies

By Annika Cline
Published: Friday, June 3, 2016 - 4:01pm
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(Photo by Ken Bosma - CC BY 2.0)
Red Rock area near Sedona.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a ruling this week requiring two coal-fired power plants in Utah to install new pollution controls.

The state of Utah had proposed a different plan to reduce haze from the plants, but that plan did not include retrofitting the plants with new controls.

“So we put a federal plan in place to replace that part of Utah’s plan that we disapproved. And what we put in place are what we call ‘best available retrofit technologies.’ And these will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by almost 10,000 tons per year,” said Monica Morales, spokesperson for the EPA.

The EPA estimates the price tag for this overhaul is around $430 million. But Rocky Mountain Power, the company that owns both plants, estimates the cost will be closer to $700 million.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports the company is weighing its legal options. But some Arizona businesses are celebrating the decision, because the haze from the plants crosses state boundaries and affects Arizona air.

“Air quality can make a huge difference for my business,” said Heather Parris is the owner of Self Propelled Tours Sedona, a bike tour company. “It’s not good to be breathing in pollution when you’re cycling, especially if you’re cycling hard. And then as well, the views; it certainly impinges on our beautiful scenery.”

Parris said for outdoor tour companies, air quality is a constant worry. While she’s happy about the EPA ruling, she said a bigger concern right now is three lightning-caused fires currently burning in the area. She said the smoke is settling in the Verde Valley and affecting tours today.

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