Sierra Vista Herald
Last week the focus of that debate fell on the Navajo Generating Station, which is located near Page and operated by the Salt River Project.
New EPA regulations would require the plant to spend an estimated $1.1 billion on the equipment needed to reduce the level of nitrogen oxide — thereby reducing the amount of haze caused by emissions from the coal-fired Navajo plant.
If this all sounds familiar to Cochise County residents, it certainly should. Late last year State Senator Gail Griffin, Congressman Ron Barber, and other area lawmakers and public officials traveled to Benson for a meeting with an EPA representative to argue against the same proposed regulations.
In this region, the Apache Generating Station in Cochise would need to spend an estimated $170 million to achieve the new EPA emissions standard.
In both cases, the economic impact of the EPA proposal is potentially devastating. Apache serves approximately 150,000 people, one-third of whom are at or below the federal poverty line. Shuttering of the plant would result in 250 jobs being lost and the cost of electricity would increase substantially
For the Navajo plant, the consequences could ripple throughout the state, with more than 1,000 jobs at stake and the electricity generated by the facility used as payment for water rights negotiated between the federal government and several Native American tribes.
Those consequences are apparently not being weighted as significant by the EPA, however, which thus far has been offering only extensions in the time line to meet its proposed regulations, not a less costly alternative.
As the second term of the Obama Administration begins, look for this debate to intensify as the agency continues to pursue an agenda aimed at the substantial reduction in the amount of energy generated by fossil fuels.