Sunday, February 17, 2013

NM reaches deal over emissions at coal-fired plant

New Mexico has brokered an agreement with federal regulators and the state's largest utility that aims to settle more than a year of wrangling over the best way to curb pollution from a coal-fired power plant that serves more than 2 million customers in the Southwest. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration and Public Service Company of New Mexico unveiled details of the agreement Friday. It calls for shutting down two units at the 1,800-megawatt San Juan Generating Station by the end of 2017 and replacing them with a new natural gas-fired plant capable of producing at least 150 megawatts of electricity. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had initially ordered the utility to equip the plant with certain technology to cut pollutants that cause haze and visibility issues in national parks and wilderness areas in the Four Corners region. The order sparked a round of appeals and lawsuits by the state and PNM. One of the chief concerns was that the cost of the federally mandated upgrades would result in higher electric bills for customers. Martinez said in a statement Friday that much work went into crafting a solution that would address air quality, utility rates, conservation of the state's water resources and jobs in the region. Environmental groups that have been pushing for years to retire the San Juan plant said the planned closure of two of the units marks what they described as a major milestone. Still, they said they would be watching to see whether the pollution controls on the two remaining units will be enough to meet standards under the federal Clean Air Act...more  

Higher electrical bills - another blessing that comes with Wilderness. In 1977 Congress amended the Clean Air Act to include 156 Class I Areas (Parks & Wilderness) and in 1990 amended the act again which resulted in the visibility rule.

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