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Brewer urges EPA to reconsider new regulations

Warning of potentially negative impacts on water delivery and job retention, Gov. Jan Brewer is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider the consequences of new regulations being proposed for the Navajo Generating Station.

The coal-fired power plant, located near Page, is run by the Salt River Project and generates power for the Central Arizona Project. Brewer said a proposed retrofit of the plant, aimed at improving air quality and visibility, could affect the power source for CAP, which meets about 20 percent of Arizona’s water needs and provides about 45 percent of Phoenix’s water. She also expressed concern that the proposed regulations could threaten the jobs of some of the plant’s 545 full-time employees.

Brewer said the EPA should consider the severity of the economic downturn and avoid “impractical or unjustified environmental mandates.” In a press release on Oct. 13, Brewer said the agency should rely instead on environmentally aggressive but affordable controls to ensure clean air.

“Many Arizonans rely on (Navajo Generating Station) for jobs, water and electricity, as well as economic stability in Indian country,” Brewer wrote in her Oct. 13 letter to Laura Yoshii, the acting regional administrator for EPA’s Region IX. “While Arizonans are second-to-none in protecting our Grand Canyon, it must be done in a reasonable way to achieve real environmental gains in a cost-effective manner.”

The proposed rules seek to limit nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions at the plant with the use of technological retrofits at the Navajo station and the Four Corners Power Plant in Fruitland, N.M., according to a summary from the federally operated Web site www.regulations.gov, which tracks the federal rulemaking process.

Brewer wrote that revenues from the sale of surplus power at the Navajo station contribute about $22 million a year to the state’s annual $57 million payment for the construction of the CAP, while other revenue from the plant helps pay the cost of Native American water-rights settlements.

Additionally, she wrote, about 80 percent of the plant’s employees are Navajo, and the Kayenta Mine, which provides coal for the plant, employs another 422 tribal members. The Hopi Tribe will receive about $12 million in payments due to the plant in 2009, which Brewer said makes up the bulk of the tribe’s governmental operating money.

“The (Navajo station) is critical not only to CAP operations and the ability of the CAP to meet its statutory purposes, but is also critical to the economic well-being of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe,” Brewer wrote.

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