The EPA issued a permit to the Navajo Nation to build a coal fired power plant last year, but today Obama’s EPA reneged on that permit.
The Environmental Protection Agency withdrew an air quality permit it issued last August for the 1,500 MW, $3 billion Desert Rock coal-fired power plant, which was slated to be built on Navajo Nation land in New Mexico.
The EPA found the permit was issued prematurely, before complete analysis of hazardous air emissions like mercury, or the facility’s impact on endangered species, soil, vegetation and visibility in the region. The permit also did not adequately examine particulate matter, according to the EPA.
Also, project developers did not consider integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) as a best available technology, the EPA said. IGCC technology would have make Desert Rock better able to control emissions, the agency said.
The problem with IGCC is that it’s still in the experimental stages and is so much more expensive than traditional technologies used in coal powered plants, as Reuters report states:
Despite growing climate change worry, few IGCC projects in the U.S. are advancing due to cost and regulatory uncertainty.
Representatives of Navajo Nation are upset as you can imagine:
Holmstead argued that the permit was the most stringent of any such permit issued in the country. The application was submitted five years ago, he said, and dragged on for several years while the company and the Navajo Nation — a strong supporter of the project — tried to “address everybody’s concerns.”
Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley said in a statement the decision was further proof that the U.S. government isn’t “honest and truthful in its dealings with Native America.” Shirley said that the EPA withdrawal of the permit will harm the Navajo people.
“I have people dying every day because of poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, gangs, and the U.S. Government is not there to adequately fund the direct service programs that cater to these needs,” he said.
Shirley concluded by saying that the message from the EPA is that it will hold projects “on Navajo land to standards that may well be impossible to meet — and that wouldn’t be applicable elsewhere.”
If that is true, then Navajo Nation would have a legal argument under the equal protection clause. Would Obama’s EPA rather the Navajo Nation use hamsters and gerbils in wheels to generate their electricity? We know how Obama feels about coal:
Hat tip: Hot Air