Category Archives: Coal Mining

6/15/2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: US EPA Administrator Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6/15/2011 US EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works CONTACT: EPA Press Office 202-564-6794 Madam Chairman, thank you for inviting me to testify about EPA’s ongoing efforts to protect our health by reducing the air pollution that affects millions of Americans. I know this subject very personally because my son is one of the more than 25 million Americans battling asthma. Let me begin my testimony with a matter of fact: pollution, such as mercury and particulate matter, shortens and reduces the quality of Americans’ lives and puts at risk the health and development of future generations. We know mercury is a toxin that causes neurological damage to adults, children and developing fetuses. We know mercury causes neurological damage, including lost IQ point in children. And we know particulate matter can lead to respiratory disease, decreased lung function and even pre-mature death. These pollutants – and others including arsenic, chromium and acid gases –come from power plants. These are simple facts that should not be up for debate.

However, Madam Chairman, while Americans across the country suffer from this pollution, special interests who are trying to gut long-standing public health protections are now going so far as to claim that these pollutants aren’t even harmful. These myths are being perpetrated by some of the same lobbyists who have in the past testified before Congress about the importance of reducing mercury and particulate matter. Now on behalf of their clients, they’re saying the exact opposite.

The good news is that to address this pollution problem, in 1970 Congress passed the Clean Air Act – which was signed into law by a Republican President, and then strengthened in 1990 under another Republican Administration.

Last year alone, the Clean Air Act is estimated to have saved 160,000 lives and prevented more than 100,000 hospital visits. Simply put, protecting public health and the environment should not be – and historically has not been – a partisan issue.

Despite all the distractions, let me assure you that EPA will continue to base all of our public health protections on two key principles: the law and the best science. Allow me to focus on two current activities.

On March 16, after 20 years in the making, EPA proposed the first ever national standards for mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. While many power plants already comply, the standards will level the playing field by requiring additional power plants to install widely-available, proven pollution control technologies.

Deployment of these technologies will prevent an estimated:

17,000 premature deaths
11,000 heart attacks
120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms
11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children
12,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions
850,000 days of work missed due to illness

This proposed rule, which is going through a public comment process, is the product of significant outreach to industry and other stakeholders.

As we work at EPA to cut down on mercury and other toxins from power plants, we’re also trying to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide through the “Clean Air Transport Rule” we proposed last year.

This rule requires 31 states and the District of Columbia to reduce their emissions of these two pollutants – which contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution across state lines – thereby significantly improving air quality in cities across the U.S. Utilities can achieve these reductions by investing in widely-available technology.

Once finalized, this rule will result in more than $120 billion in health benefits each year. EPA estimates this rule will protect public health by avoiding:

14,000 to 36,000 premature death

· 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis

· 23,000 nonfatal heart attacks

240,000 cases of aggravated asthma
440,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms
26,000 hospital and emergency room visits

· 1.9 million days of work or school missed due to illness

These numbers represent a major improvement in the quality of life for literally millions of people throughout the country – especially working families, children and older Americans.

While some argue that public health protections are too costly, history has repeatedly shown that we can clean up pollution, create jobs and grow our economy all at the same time.

Over the 40 years since the Clean Air Act was passed, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product grew more than 200 percent. In fact, some economic analysis suggests that the economy is billions of dollars larger today than it would have been without the Act.

Simply put, the Clean Air Act saves lives and strengthens the American workforce. As a result, the economic value of clean air far exceeds the costs. Expressed in dollar terms, the benefits of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 alone are projected to reach approximately $2 trillion in 2020, with an estimated cost of $65 billion in that same year – a benefit to cost ratio of more than 30 to 1.

With legislation pending in Congress to weaken and gut this proven public health protection law, I urge this committee to stand up for the hundreds of millions of Americans who are directly or indirectly affected by air pollution.

I look forward to your questions.


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6/13/2011 US EPA Press Release: EPA Improves Clean-Air Permitting in Indian Country

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 13, 2011 CONTACT: Enesta Jones (News Media Only) 202-564-7873 202-564-4355 EPA Improves Clean-Air Permitting in Indian Country: Action protects public health, allows for public participation and fosters economic development in Indian Country WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized rules to ensure that Clean Air Act permitting requirements are applied consistently to facilities in Indian country to better protect the health of people living near them. This action will provide tribes with the tools they need to ensure that newly built or expanding facilities meet these requirements, while giving industries the flexibility to choose the most practical and cost effective way to do so. These sensible steps were developed after considering public input from key stakeholders including tribes, industry, and states. Pollutants covered under these permits, such as sulfur dioxide and particles, can cause a number of serious health problems including aggravated asthma, increased emergency room visits, heart attacks and premature death.

“These actions will limit harmful pollutants, provide the health protections tribal families deserve and allow for an open and transparent permitting process,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The actions also bring clean air permitting programs for Indian country in line with state and federal programs.”

Today’s actions lay out clear requirements for issuing clean air permits to sources in Indian country and set specific timelines for phasing them in. The rules establish the federal process to issue permits to large sources, those emitting more than 100 tons per year, in areas of Indian country that do not meet national air quality standards, and to register smaller sources, those emitting less than 100 or 250 tons per year in all areas of Indian country. A rule already in place lays out requirements for EPA to issue permits to major sources in areas of Indian country that meet national air quality standards. The new rules fill an important gap in the nation’s air program that will foster economic development in Indian country in a way that protects the health of tribes, a group that shares the same environmental justice concerns as other low-income and minority communities.

The preconstruction air permitting program, also called New Source Review or “NSR,” ensures air quality is maintained when industrial facilities are built or modified. The program ensures that appropriate emission control technology is installed at new plants or existing plants that undergo a modification.

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5/27/2011 Earth Policy Institute – Pollution: Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China

5/27/2011 Pollution: Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. This post was written by Janet Larsen, director of research for the Earth Policy Institute. Additional resources at Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese Ministry of Health data implicate cancer in close to a quarter of all deaths countrywide. As is common with many countries as they industrialize, the usual plagues of poverty — infectious diseases and high infant mortality — have given way to diseases more often associated with affluence, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. While this might be expected in China’s richer cities, where bicycles are fast being traded in for cars and meat consumption is climbing, it also holds true in rural areas. In fact, reports from the countryside reveal a dangerous epidemic of “cancer villages” linked to pollution from some of the very industries propelling China’s explosive economy. By pursuing economic growth above all else, China is sacrificing the health of its people, ultimately risking future prosperity.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in China. Deaths from this typically fatal disease have shot up nearly fivefold since the 1970s. In China’s rapidly growing cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, where particulates in the air are often four times higher than in New York City, nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths are from lung cancer.

Dirty air is associated with not only a number of cancers, but also heart disease, stroke, and respiratory disease, which together account for over 80 percent of deaths countrywide. According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the burning of coal is responsible for 70 percent of the emissions of soot that clouds out the sun in so much of China; 85 percent of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain and smog; and 67 percent of nitrogen oxide, a precursor to harmful ground level ozone. Coal burning is also a major emitter of carcinogens and mercury, a potent neurotoxin. Coal ash, which contains radioactive material and heavy metals, including chromium, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, is China’s No. 1 source of solid industrial waste. The toxic ash that is not otherwise used in infrastructure or manufacturing is stored in impoundments, where it can be caught by air currents or leach contaminants into the groundwater.

Coal pollution combined with emissions from China’s burgeoning industries and the exhaust of a fast-growing national vehicle fleet are plenty enough to impair breathing and jeopardize health. But that does not stop over half the men in China from smoking tobacco. Smoking is far less common among women; less than 3 percent light up. Still, about one in 10 of the estimated 1 million Chinese who die from smoking-related diseases each year are exposed to carcinogenic secondhand smoke but do not smoke themselves.

In rural areas, liver, lung, and stomach cancers each accounts for close to 20 percent of cancer mortality. Liver cancer is more than three times as likely to kill a Chinese farmer as the average global citizen; for stomach cancer, rural Chinese have double the world death rate. These cancers are linked to water polluted by chemicals and sewage, along with other environmental contaminants.

As factories, plants, and mines discharge pollutants, rivers and lakes take on sickly hues. Even underground water sources become contaminated. Government data indicate that half of China’s rivers and more than three out of every four lakes and reservoirs are too polluted for safe drinking, even after treatment. Nevertheless, they remain a primary source of water for many people.

More than 450 “cancer villages” have emerged across China in recent years, according to an analysis by geographer Lee Liu published in Environment magazine in 2010. These communities — where an unusually high number of residents are struck by the same types of cancer — tend to cluster in poorer areas along polluted waterways or downstream from industrial parks. Whereas much of China’s early industrial development took place along the coast, factories more recently have been locating where labor is cheaper and environmental oversight is less strict, pushing the so-called “cancer belt” inland.

For villages once largely self-sufficient, the poisoning of their water and soil is devastating. The young and able-bodied often leave to seek income elsewhere. Those too old, too poor, or too sick to leave remain, struggling to work the poisoned land.

Liu notes that in some extreme cases, like in Huangmengying Village in Henan Province, “the death rate is higher than the birth rate and is rising rapidly,” and not because of population aging. In this particular village, which gets blackened water from a tributary of the notoriously polluted Huai River, some 80 percent of the village’s young people are chronically ill. Even 1-year-olds are receiving cancer diagnoses. About half of all the village deaths between 1994 and 2004 were caused by liver, rectum, and stomach cancers. More recent data is not readily available because the government official who initially made the numbers public was accused of “leaking state secrets,” was fired from his job as the village’s Party secretary, and now is reluctant to speak out, according to reporting for the Global Times.

Because of the lag time before diagnosis or death, plus the lack of health care in many of the poorest, most polluted areas, the magnitude of China’s cancer epidemic could be far greater than imagined. And not all the environmental burden is borne locally. The contamination spans geography — as toxins in products and crops are spread through markets and trade or are literally carried across oceans by global air currents — as well as generations.

China’s youth, and therefore the country’s future, are at risk. Birth defect rates have been climbing rapidly in recent years in the major cities and countrywide. Chinese family planning officials link this “alarming rise” to environmental contamination. The coal mining and processing areas of Shanxi Province are home to the world’s highest birth defect rate: over 8.4 percent. Of the 1 million or so affected babies born each year in China, some 20 to 30 percent may be treated, but 40 percent will have permanent disabilities. The rest die shortly after birth.

Over the last several years, thousands of children living near lead mines, smelters, and battery plants have been poisoned. Deadly at excessive levels, lead in the blood is considered unsafe in any amount. Exposure can impair cognitive and nervous system development, stunt growth, hamper learning, and depress IQ. Heartbreaking news stories tell of the lost potential of children who lose their chance to go on to school or fail to thrive more generally due to their exposure to high environmental levels of lead.

For a country of one child families, it is no wonder to see more frequent “mass incidents” (the government’s term for protests) sparked by the health fallout from pollution. In some cases, operations of the offending industries have been closed following protest; in others, the government has relocated entire communities to allow the polluters to continue operations. Yet in many situations, the contamination continues unabated.

It is easy to point a finger at unscrupulous industries and government officials willing to look the other way, but some responsibility for China’s unhealthy environment originates outside the country’s borders. Waste is frequently loaded up in container ships overseas and delivered directly to China. More insidiously, Western consumers lapping up artificially cheap “Made in China” components and products have outsourced pollution to this factory for the world.

Earlier this year, near the release of China’s latest five-year plan, The New York Times quoted Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s proclamation that “We must not any longer sacrifice the environment for the sake of rapid growth and reckless roll-outs.” Yet while official rhetoric recognizes the importance of preserving the environment and the health of its people, the Chinese government still has a long way to go in bolstering transparency and enforcement of even the existing environmental regulations, not to mention strengthening protection. If it does not do so, the country’s toxic burden threatens to stall or even reverse the dramatic health gains of the last 60 years, which raised average life expectancy from 45 to 74 years and slashed infant mortality from 122 deaths per 1,000 births down to 20. Economic gains could be lost as productivity wanes and massive health bills come due. Ultimately, a sick country can prosper only so long.

Here’s a breakdown of the leading causes of death in China:

5/31/2011 NRDC Would You Like Cancer-causing or Brain-poisoning Pollution With That Electricity?

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Staff Blog by Pete Altman: Hundreds of people have said no to toxic pollution from power plants near them by attending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearings. The last one is today in Atlanta — if you can’t make it, support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies cut the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases & other nasty stuff they release into the air by TAKING ACTION: http://b/ Next time you flip on the light switch, how would you respond if a little voice asked you “Thanks for your order. Would you like cancer with your electricity? How about some brain-poison?” Weird question, right? Unfortunately, power companies are one of the biggest toxic polluters in the US, dumping millions of pounds of cancer-causing, brain-poisoning toxins like arsenic and mercury into the air each year. The toxins are found in the coal that is burned to supply about ½ of our nation’s electricity.

This week, hundreds of people have shown up to hearings in Philadelphia and Chicago organized by the US Environmental Protection Agency to say “no thanks” to toxic pollution from power plants, and support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies reduce the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases and other nasty stuff they release into the air.

(To let the EPA know you support reducing toxic pollution from power plants, take action here.)

As the Associated Press explained,

Several hundred people, from environmentalists and physicians to mothers and fishermen, testified before a panel of federal environmental officials on Tuesday to urge the passage of proposed new standards to limit the amount of air pollution that coal-fired power plants can release into the atmosphere.”

One those physicians was Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the poison control center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who said

Young children are uniquely vulnerable to the toxic effects of environmental poisons such as mercury and arsenic. These compounds are especially dangerous to the developing brain and nervous system.

Some of the speakers pulled no punches. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported,

Rabbi Daniel Swartz leaned toward the microphone at Tuesday’s hearing on proposed federal rules to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

By allowing emissions to continue, “we have, in effect, subsidized the poisoning of fetuses and children,” the Scranton rabbi said.

In Chicago, a similar scene unfolded, as the Chicago Tribune reported, with supporters of limiting toxic air pollution coming out in force, as noted by Chicago radio station WBEZ:

Midwesterners who testified at a public hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed EPA plan.”

One of those speaking in Chicago was NRDC’s Shannon Fisk, who focused on the critical need for EPA to act swiftly to reduce toxic pollution, saying,

[Some] in industry are pushing EPA to delay …my question to these agents of delay is how much is enough. How many lives are they willing to sacrifice in order to have even more time to install pollution controls that have been available for decades?”

Polling shows that throughout the nation, Americans strongly support reducing toxic air pollution from industrials sources. A February 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling revealed that 66% of Americans support “requiring stricter limits on the amount of toxic chemicals such as mercury lead and arsenic that coal power plants and other industrial facilities release.”

The EPA’s final hearing on the toxics rules is in Atlanta today. But going to a hearing isn’t the only way for concerned citizens to weigh in.

If you’d like to say “no thanks” to cancer-causing and brain-poisoning toxins from power plants, send a comment directly to the EPA in support of the toxics proposals by using our quick and easy action page.

5/29/2011 home Ailing UN climate talks jolted by record surge in greenhouse gases

Ailing UN climate talks jolted by record surge in greenhouse gases. Lord Stern talks of ‘wake-up call’ for governments meeting in Bonn next week with no sign of an agreement to succeed Kyoto. The record leap in global greenhouse gas emissions last year has thrown the spotlight on the world’s only concerted attempt to stem the tide of global warming – the United Nations climate negotiations. Next week, governments will convene in Bonn, Germany, for the latest round of more than 20 years of tortuous talks, aimed at forging a binding international agreement on climate change which so far has eluded them. Little is expected of the meeting, a staging post on the road to a bigger conference in Durban, South Africa, in December. But the data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) should shock even the most jaded of negotiators.

“I hope these estimates provide a wake-up call to governments,” said Lord Stern, a London School of Economics professor and author of the landmark review on the economics of climate change. “Progress in international discussions since the modest successes [at the last UN meeting] in Cancún last December has been slow.”

Tom Burke, founding director of green thinktank E3G and a veteran environmental campaigner, is even more forthright. “Be frightened – be very frightened,” he said. “This rise in emissions underlines the urgency [of tackling climate change]. The politicians had better come back on this very fast, or we are all in trouble.”

The contrast between the snail’s pace of negotiations and the rapid rise in emissions catalogued by the International Energy Agency could scarcely be more marked. The Bonn and Durban meetings are widely expected to produce only a few clarifications of countries’ emissions targets – already deemed inadequate by campaigners – and some detailed wording of the rules on issues such as forestry and carbon trading.

Yet the jump in carbon dioxide emissions comes less than 18 months after the climate change summit at Copenhagen, which was billed as the most important international meeting since the second world war but produced only a partial agreement and failed to set out a path to a binding treaty.

Another small step was taken at Cancún, when emissions-cutting targets were firmed up and financial commitments from rich to poor fleshed out, though the cash has yet to hit the streets.

“This is clearly an incremental process,” said Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary. “But the steps forward at Cancún showed that the UN framework convention on climate change is capable of progress.”

According to the IEA, the problem the UN process is seeking to address is growing faster than anyone predicted. If emissions this year rise at the same pace as last year, the world will exceed 32 gigatonnes of Co2 in energy-related emissions alone in a single year. This is the level the IEA had expected emissions to reach by 2020, indicating that the growth of CO2 emissions has been much quicker than expected.

Unless these rises can be turned to reductions within a few years, the world will soon be well beyond what scientists say is the limit of safety.

Stern, chair of the Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment at the LSE, said: “If we are to give ourselves a 50% chance of avoiding a warming of more than 2C, and radically cut the risk of a 4 degrees rise, global annual emissions will need to peak within the next 10 years and then fall steadily, at least halving by 2050.”

Even the worst economic recession in 80 years failed to make a lasting dent in emissions. “The global downturn bought us only a very temporary and now vanishing breathing space and the need for significant cuts in emissions remains urgent,” Stern added. “The window of opportunity to meet the 2 degrees target is closing, and further delay risks closing it altogether. The challenge is not simply to meet the targets agreed at Cancún but to raise our ambition from there.”

While warnings grow louder, analysts say politicians are turning off. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said governments have lost interest. “The significance of climate change in international policy debate is much less pronounced than it was a few years ago,” he said. “It’s difficult to say that the wind is blowing in the right direction.”

This gloomy assessment was borne out at last week’s summit of the G8 group of leading industrialised nations in Deauville, a two-hour train ride from the IEA’s offices in Paris, where hopes that world leaders would discuss climate issues were dashed. Russia, Japan and Canada reportedly told the meeting they would refuse to join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto protocol. Greenpeace accused leaders of “gambling with our future”.

Some participants remain optimistic. “The key success criteria [in Bonn and Durban] are whether we can start to deliver the Cancún agreements, as well as make progress on the difficult political issues not resolved there, such as the legal form [of any future agreement] and the level of ambition of emission reduction pledges,” said Huhne.

At Bonn, a sticking point is whether there will be a second phase to the Kyoto protocol, the 1997 pact in which developed countries agreed to cut their emissions by about 5% by 2012. While the EU is on track to meet its commitments, other countries are not and some – including the US, which opposes Kyoto – would prefer to discuss a replacement. Developing countries refuse to countenance this, insisting Kyoto must continue as the prerequisite for continuing talks.

To an outside observer, this argument over the legal status of a 1997 agreement that has never been enforced, has been rejected by the US and that puts no obligations on the world’s biggest emitter and second biggest economy, China, may seem arcane. But this debate has been the bread-and-butter of the UN talks.

Since Copenhagen, some countries have suggested another approach may work better – agreement among key countries that would bypass objectors, for instance, or a “bottom-up” approach where countries invest in renewable energy to cut emissions. All such attempts have been rejected by developing nations and green groups, who say only an international treaty will deliver accountability.

Huhne believes the UN negotiations can still deliver. “The UK has no intention of letting up in its efforts to get a legally binding agreement,” he said.

Britain’s adoption of ambitious carbon targets for the mid-2020s, as well as pushing the EU to take a tougher line on emissions, “shows we are serious about meeting the climate challenge, not just arguing for it.”

There are signs of progress among emerging economies. Stern said. “China is now really focused on this issue [of emissions] via its five-year plan published in March, covering 2011-2015, and the country hopes to learn enough in the next five years to exceed and perhaps tighten its Cancún target for 2020.”

Stern says the key to progress is to see tackling emissions as an economic growth opportunity, rather than a curb. “All countries, particularly in the rich world, should now be taking still stronger action to tackle climate change and to embark on the transition to low-carbon economic growth. This will be a new energy-industrial revolution and full of creativity and innovation and great benefits beyond simply cutting the risks from climate change. We can see its beginnings – it is time to accelerate.”

Dirty Energy Money

Oil Change International Dirty Energy Money: Please check out the link: Dirty Energy Money is an interactive tool that tracks the flow of contributions to US Congress. Find out which companies are pumping their dirty money into politics and which politicians are receiving it. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) got $252,360 from coal and oil. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) got $450,872 from oil and coal. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ01) got $17,300.

5/20/2011 AP: Navajo coal plant focus of congressional hearing

5/20/2011 Navajo coal plant focus of congressional hearing by FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press: FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The fate of a coal-fired power plant that provides hundreds of jobs to American Indians, yet spews tons of emissions that cloud the view at the Grand Canyon and other parks, is uncertain. The Navajo Generating Station in Page serves as an economic engine that ensures water and power demands are met in major metropolitan areas. Conservationists see it as a health and environmental hazard and want to wean the plant off its reliance to coal in favor of renewable energy. A factor in whether the more than 40-year-old plant survives is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates power plants on tribal lands. The agency is deciding whether to issue pollution controls this summer for the plant, which is one of the biggest sources of nitrogen oxide emissions in the country.

“Our job is to decide, ‘Are the parks adequately protected?'” said Colleen McKaughan, associate director of the EPA’s air division in San Francisco. “And if they’re not, does the facility need additional pollution controls?”

The role of the plant also has become the focus of a congressional hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that came at the request of Republican Reps. Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, who represent the Hopi and Navajo tribes, respectively. They say requiring pollution controls would force the plant to close and devastate the tribal communities that rely on the jobs and revenue from coal that feeds the plant.

“This is a way to highlight the impact that it is having and the lack of commonsense that’s being adjudicated when we’re talking about coal-fired plants,” Gosar said.

Environmentalists see the hearing as a coordinated attack on the EPA and say the plant’s owners are creating unnecessary alarm with their doom-and-gloom predictions over the EPA’s actions.

Nitrogen oxide is only a small part of the issue, and the future could bring regulations for mercury and carbon dioxide, said Vernon Masayesva, a Hopi and director of the Black Mesa Trust.

“We should not put our energies into fighting over a visibility issue,” said Masayesva, who’s scheduled to testify Tuesday. “In doing so, we’re dividing the Navajo people.”

The 2,250-megawatt power plant began producing electricity in 1974 and is supplied by coal from Peabody Energy’s Kayenta Mine. Some 1,000 people are employed at the power plant and mine combined, with the majority being American Indians.

The plant’s owners are trying to stave off the EPA’s proposals to give themselves more time to secure lease extensions and right-of-way grants that begin expiring in 2019.

They contend that a $45 million upgrade of the three 750-megawatt units at the plant, which will include burners that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 40 percent, or 14,000 tons per year, should be sufficient to help clear up the haze at the Grand Canyon. Further upgrades could cost $1.1 billion, they say.

“That puts the owners in a situation where we’re being asked to make a significant investment with a lot of uncertainty over whether the plant would be able to operate long enough to recover that investment,” said Glen Reeves, manager of power generation for the Salt River Project, which operates the plant. “That’s the tenuous situation we’re in.”

The EPA must consider the best available retrofit technology, or BART, for reducing such emissions, which are expensive selective catalytic converters. If the EPA goes that route, it would set the plant’s owners on a timeline to install the pollution controls.

“We’re definitely for the most stringent air quality measures that can be had,” said Andy Bessler of the Sierra Club. “That’s what BART stands for.”

For some, the current situation brings back memories of the Mohave Generating Station, which shut down in 2006 because it needed pollution-control upgrades to comply with a 199 Clean Air Act settlement, a new water supply and pipeline upgrades costing $1.1 billion.

But SRP officials say the effects of shutting down Navajo Generating Station would have a farther reach. The power plant provides energy to deliver water from the Colorado River to Tucson and Phoenix through a series of canals.

Those interested in what becomes of Navajo Generating Station began meeting in January in an effort to come to an agreement on its future. The plan was to give the EPA a proposal by March that the agency could consider in making a decision on pollution controls, but that didn’t happen.

At least one Navajo environmental group pulled out of the discussions because it said the talks were a tactic to keep the power plant running and stall the EPA’s actions. Similar groups are pushing a 10-year transition to renewable energy.

“That’s a win-win right there,” Masayesva said.

The plant’s owners have said they would support a study to see if that’s feasible.

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5/2/2011 Gallup Independent: Northeastern Arizona water rights settlement 'too expensive'

5/2/2011 Gallup Independent Northeastern Arizona water rights settlement ‘too expensive’ By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent:   WINDOW ROCK – The proposed $800 million Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement approved by the Navajo Nation last November is “too expensive” and will not be introduced to Congress in its current form, according to court documents.  An April 19 report from Arizona Superior Court Special Master George A. Schade Jr., states that parties to the settlement were informed March 24 by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that the proposed settlement is too expensive. Navajo Nation water rights attorney Stanley Pollack stated in the report that Kyl is unwilling to introduce legislation to authorize the settlement in its current form given the current political and fiscal climate in Washington.

However, Kyl encouraged the parties to reach new settlement language by June so that he might submit legislation to Congress prior to his retirement in 2012 at the end of the current Congress. Pollack informed Schade that the parties were scheduled to meet with Kyl last week in Phoenix to discuss possible terms. Since being advised that the proposed settlement is too expensive, the negotiating parties have been meeting to revise the terms and make it less costly.

The Navajo Nation’s San Juan River water rights settlement also had an estimated price tag of $800 million.

Pollack noted that terms approved Nov. 4, 2010, by the 21st Navajo Nation Council for the Northeastern Arizona settlement are no longer up for consideration because the settlement does not have a chance for success in Congress. No action was taken by the Hopi Tribe, as the document had not gone out to the villages for consideration by the Hopi people.

Under the proposed agreement – which had grassroots Navajos marching on Window Rock in protest – the Navajo Nation would receive 31,000 acre-feet of “fourth priority” water per year, while Navajo Generating Station would receive 34,100 acre-feet per year of Upper Basin water for its continued operation.

Any new settlement terms will require approval by the 22nd Navajo Nation Council and the 32 other parties to the settlement. Pollack reported that he does not anticipate that the terms will be approved by the time federal legislation is introduced.

When contacted Friday, Pollack said he was “hamstrung” from discussing the matter by confidentiality orders, however, he did say, “The Arizona discussions are not dead.”

The settlement springs from the Little Colorado River adjudication which has been ongoing since March 14, 2003, when the Navajo Nation took legal action challenging the Secretary of the Interior’s operation of various management programs in the Lower Basin of the Colorado River. Numerous parties have since intervened, among them the state of Arizona, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Salt River Project, Arizona Power Authority, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the state of Nevada.

The Navajo Nation and the United States stipulated to granting all motions to intervene and to a two-year stay of the litigation so the Interior could appoint an Indian water rights settlement team and pursue efforts to resolve the Nation’s water rights claims through negotiation and settlement.

On April 12, parties involved in the case requested a four-month extension of stay until Aug. 15 in the federal court case, the Navajo Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., and U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt granted the stay April 19. The court has repeatedly granted extensions of the original stay issued in October 2004.

Water from the Little Colorado River system could affect the magnitude of the Nation’s claim to water from the main stem Colorado River. In 2005, the parties acknowledged that resources within the Little Colorado River Basin are not sufficient to secure a permanent homeland for the Navajo people. The “Kyl Report” and other studies have reached the conclusion that there would be a need for some imported water supplies from the Colorado River.

During November’s protest in Window Rock, Jeneda Benally said the Navajo people were opposed to having their water rights “sold out underneath us, because our future generations … are going to be affected by this decision, and 31,000 acre-feet of water is not enough. We need to be able to sustain ourselves as a people, and for that we need water. Water is life.”

Many of the grassroots people also were upset that the language called for waiving all “past, present and future claims for water rights arising from time immemorial” that are based upon aboriginal occupancy. Navajo also would waive any claims for injury to water quality – another concern of residents who have been impacted by past coal and uranium mining.

Forgotten People pull out of Navajo Generating Station (NGS) EN3 meetings Forgotten People pull out Friday, March 18th, 2011: Forgotten People decided after much thought and discussion to join all the grassroots and environmental organizations pulling out of the NGS EN3 process. Instead, we will all spend Friday, March 25th together to discuss our next steps to ensure US EPA Clean Air, BART compliance and a transition to renewable energy. Forgotten People does not want to be used as a “checklist” for community input to stall US EPA BART regulations. As directly affected people we see NO real timeline for a transition to renewable energy on the table, NO serious community input in your processes, no series of community tours to allow real input, NO response to our United Nations case submitted 3/1/2011 for the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation…

From the beginning of our participation in this process, we have clearly stated our goal and objective for a transition time line to clean energy.

Unfortunately what we see is a process that seeks to keep the NGS running and stall US EPA Clean Air regs. What the NGS owners and stakeholders will miss seeing first hand on a community tour is significant: Coal dust over Black Mesa, desecrated cemeteries, burial and sacred site desecration, open graves marked by archeologists stakes, people who do not know where their family members are buried in areas that were mined, dismantled wells, water sources degraded and diminished like sacred Sagebrush Spring, people living without electricity and piped water, and impassable, ungraded dirt roads that Peabody refused to grade under a Navajo Nation State of Emergency. It is for these reasons that the people cannot afford to be used to keep the NGS operating. We strongly believe the time for burning fossil fuels is coming to an end and it is time to consider the health of the people and the environment.

Please check out Forgotten People’s case submitted to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 3/1/2011. Scribd is the world’s largest social reading and publishing site.

Please check out Forgotten People’s PowerPoint Presentation on the NGS website: Forgotten People and NGS – Securing Economic & Climate Justice

Forgotten People NGS PowerPoint Presentation link.

Please check out the US EPA News Release: EPA Proposes First National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants / Mercury and air toxics standards represent one of strongest health protections from air pollution since passage of Clean Air Act


Category: NGS Project
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Letter from Conservation and Community Groups to the Owners of the Navajo Generating Station

Letter from Conservation and Community Groups to the Owners of the Navajo Generating  Station February 17, 2011 To: Navajo Generating Station Owners, From: Rob Smith/Sierra Club, Mike Eisenfeld/San Juan Citizens Alliance, Taylor McKinnon/Center for Biological Diversity, Anna Frazier/Dineʼ CARE, Roger Clark, Grand Canyon Trust, Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, Don Yellowman/Forgotten People RE: The goals of the SRP-sponsored stakeholder meetings

We have been participants or observers in good faith for more than a month in the multiple stakeholder meetings on the future of the Navajo Generating Station at the invitation of Salt River Project, who has arranged these meetings on behalf of the owners of this coal-fired power plant. During this time we have regularly asked the owners to identify the goal of these discussions, and have consistently suggested that they focus on two primary outcomes:

1) that the Navajo Generating Station phase out the use of coal to generate power within the next few years, replacing it with clean, renewable energy sources, and
2) that a transition plan be developed, including funding, to provide for longterm economic opportunity for the affected tribes and communities by shifting from coal to clean, renewable energy sources

We now request that the plant owners, including the Department of Interiorʼs Bureau of Reclamation, clearly state whether or not they are committed to achieving these two goals through this stakeholder process.

If all parties do not share these two goals, then we do not see the value of continuing to participate in these stakeholder meetings.

We invite any party that shares these two goals to join with us in working for environmental justice and economic opportunities for the local tribes and communities, for greater health benefits for all citizens of the area, and for cleaner air and the reduction of climate-altering emissions.

We assert that these objectives will only be reached by a transition to clean, renewable energy in the region.