Obama's EPA Overreaches with the Navajo Nation

I address the EPA’s overreaching in its treatment of the Navajo Nation in my latest column at American Issues Project. Last year the EPA approved a clean air permit for the Desert Rock coal-powered power plant, but this year, the Obama administration’s EPA reneged on the permit, which is bad news for those living in the Navajo Nation. Here’s a portion:

The Environmental Protection Agency flexed its muscles last month when it reneged on an air quality permit approved last year by the Bush administration for the construction of the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant that was scheduled to be built on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. It was a dramatic move that further illustrated the boldness with which the Obama administration has been undoing the policies of the previous administration. And as with some of Obama’s previous actions, this one will have a ripple effect throughout our economy as the EPA continues to undermine coal-powered energy production. Perhaps nowhere is that ripple effect on display more obviously than in the EPA’s treatment of the Navajo Nation.

One of the reasons the EPA cited for the permit recall was that didn’t consider integrated gasification-combined cycle (IGCC), which the EPA believes is a better technology for controlling greenhouse emissions. There are two noteworthy disadvantages with IGCC technology. First, IGCC is still experimental at this point, and with only about two IGCC plants in operation, there is limited data to provide the information needed to determine whether it is a good investment. The second is that the few IGCC plants that are in existence have shown that the technology is significantly more expensive to build and maintain.

What’s particularly absurd is that the EPA denied the permit even though the technology the plant was going to use would have captured the vast majority of greenhouse gases. According to Steven Begay, executive director of Diné Power Authority of the Navajo Nation, Desert Rock was “a large-scale, coal-fired power plant that [would have offered] super-critical boiler technology with a series of emissions systems to capture 90 percent or more of some of the pollutants and set new standards as compared to old, existing coal-fired power plants.”

Please read it all.

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