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Environmentalists say lawmakers limiting testimony at EPA pollution hearing

This Sept. 4, 2011 file photo shows the main plant facility at the Navajo Generating Station, as seen from Lake Powell in Page, Ariz. The federal government is proposing new limits for pollution from the coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation that it says will improve visibility at places like the Grand Canyon, but it could come with a price tag of more than $1 billion, according to the plant's owners. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

This Sept. 4, 2011 file photo shows the main plant facility at the Navajo Generating Station, as seen from Lake Powell in Page, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

House and Senate lawmakers are scheduled to hold a joint hearing Monday to hear testimony on the impact of a recent federal order instructing Arizona power companies to install pricey pollution control equipment at coal plants.

The Senate Government and Environment Committee and the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee will listen to Arizona utility companies, hospitals, businesses and the Navajo Nation, a lineup expected to testify against the Environmental Protection Agency’s order to reduce haze and improve air quality.

Monday’s hearing won’t include testimony from EPA officials in defense of its order, or anyone who’d speak in favor of the EPA’s order, said Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. It will only include those that will say “let’s just keep these dirty coal plants plugging away and polluting the air,” she said.

“Anyone who has a different opinion seems to have not been invited,” Bahr said. “They didn’t even put a call to the public or a public comment place on the agenda.”

Rod Ross, policy adviser to the Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee, said only those invited to speak will be heard Monday. Public comment will be available in a Senate committee hearing immediately following the joint hearing, when lawmakers consider SCR 1012, sponsored by Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, which declares the Legislature’s opposition to the EPA’s plan.

“This is going to be an informational hearing only, so as of now, I don’t think the chairmen plan on taking public comment,” Ross told the Arizona Capitol Times. The people we invited are those who are being or potentially being affected by the EPA rule.”

The EPA’s order in part rejected the state’s own proposal to improve air quality, saying Arizona’s plan didn’t go far enough in reducing pollution at three coal power plants. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne filed an appeal of the EPA’s decision that claims the order is “prohibitively expensive.”

 

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