Jan 31, 2013 11:06 AM by Faye DeHoff
PHOENIX - An attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force Arizona utilities to spend up to $1 billion for supposed pollution control measures that would not affect health or be visible to the human eye, is being challenged in federal court by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.
"This is an absurd action that would significantly raise utility rates for most Arizonans without providing any benefit to anyone," Horne said.
On behalf of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Horne today filed a Petition for Review with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the EPA's plan to impose new haze restrictions. Such measures could require the installation of prohibitively expensive Selective Catalytic Reduction technology at the Apache, Cholla and Coronado power plants at the cost of up to one billion dollars statewide.
"This attempt by the EPA has nothing to do with ensuring clean air and everything to do with trying to eliminate coal as a source of electricity," Horne added. "The terrible irony of this is that the supposed improvement in visibility the EPA wants to achieve is not even visible to the human eye. These plants are being told to reduce haze that cannot even be seen and has no effect on a person's health. That is ludicrous, and it causes a tremendous hardship to every Arizonan who uses electricity or drinks water; in other words, everyone."
He continued, "If the EPA is successful in implementing this plan, not one bit of regional haze will be diminished, and the Navajo Generating Station, which is not part of this specific action, but produces electricity to deliver Central Arizona Project Water, would likely also be threatened in the future, forcing the CAP to buy electricity on the open market. If that was to happen, CAP energy rates would be driven up at least 20 percent. Those added electricity and water costs are passed on to consumers in Phoenix and Tucson who rely on the CAP for drinking water. The federal government appears bent on causing serious economic damage to the average consumer in the name of environmental protection when the environmental benefits it wishes to confer simply do not exist. I will do all I can to stop this bureaucratic overreach."
The Petition for review asks the Ninth Circuit EPA to overturn the EPA plan.
The Apache power plant is operated by the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative in Cochise, Arizona. The Cholla power plant in Joseph City, Arizona is operated by Arizona Public Service, and the Coronado power plant is operated by Salt River Project near St. John's, Arizona.