The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said June 1 that it has made a final determination to partially approve and partially disapprove the state of Utah’s regional haze plan to reduce haze-forming emissions affecting Arches, Canyonlands and seven other National Parks and Wilderness Areas protected as “Class I” areas under the Clean Air Act.
EPA is issuing a federal plan that will require the installation of emission control technologies and reduce NOX emissions from four electrical generating units at PacifiCorp’s coal-fired Hunter and Huntington plants in Emery County, Utah, by 9,885 tons each year. The agency is also approving portions of the state’s plan addressing particulate matter emissions at these plants.
“EPA is taking action to cut harmful haze pollution at some of our nation’s most treasured and popular National Parks,” said Shaun McGrath, EPA Region 8 Administrator. “The steps included in this plan will rely on proven, widely used pollution control strategies used at power plants across the country, protect public health, and improve visibility for those who visit our Western parks for years to come.”
EPA’s assessment of the state’s regional haze plan included the review of visibility benefits, information on costs, other measures and the extensive feedback the agency received through public comments and a January 2016 public hearing. Following this review and the requirements outlined in the Clean Air Act, the federal plan will include the use of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, the most expensive NOx-control technologies, at the Hunter and Huntington plants. The federal plan requires compliance, including the installation of emission controls, within five years.
PacifiCorp’s Hunter plant is located in Castle Dale and consists of three units. Of the three units, only Units 1 and 2 are subject to Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) limits under the regional haze program. Hunter Units 1 and 2 have a nameplate generating capacity of 488.3 MW each. The boilers are tangentially fired pulverized coal boilers, burning bituminous coal.
PacifiCorp’s Huntington plant is located in Huntington City and consists of two units. Huntington Units 1 and 2 have a nameplate generating capacity of 498 MW each. The boilers are tangentially fired pulverized coal boilers, burning bituminous coal.
Said PacifiCorp in a June 1 e-mail statement: “PacifiCorp is disappointed in EPA’s action today. We continue to believe Utah’s State Implementation Plan complies with the Regional Haze Rules. The result of the EPA’s action will significantly increase electric prices for customers without achieving EPA’s claimed emission benefit. At this point we are evaluating all legal options in the best interest of our customers.”
A coalition of clean air, public health and national park advocates on June 1 issued a statement celebrating this decision. They said that more than 55,000 public comments on the draft proposal were delivered to the EPA Region 8 urging the agency to require strong and fair limits on coal pollution threatening national parks and communities in Utah and throughout the Southwest.
“The national parks in the southwest and their millions of annual visitors are the winners today,” said Cory MacNulty, the Southwest senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “The EPA’s decision will result in real visibility and air quality improvements that will offer park visitors greater and more frequent opportunity to experience the full expanse of the dramatic vistas for which these national treasures are celebrated.”
“Thousands of Utahns, hundreds of businesses and countless others from across our country have sent the message loud and clear to the EPA: Our parks deserve nothing less than strong and fair protection from coal pollution. Today, those calls have been answered,” said Lindsay Beebe, organizing representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.