Most people celebrated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to compromise on pollution controls for Navajo Generating Station, attributing the outcome to a collaborative effort. It was a Kumbaya moment.
Like other newspapers, The Salt Lake Tribune cheered the plan in its July 29 editorial.
But this deal negotiated generations of polluted air in exchange for flexibility. That was lost in the hail of praise. The outcome of the plan is uncertain. As a result of the deal, Navajo Generating Station will continue poisoning the region’s air for decades to come — decades more than would have been allowed if the plant was not on native land.
EPA should have required the coal-fired power plant in Page, Ariz., to cut smog-forming nitrogen oxide by 85 percent over the next five years – a result that would have led to cleaner air to breathe for the plant’s neighboring communities and clearer vistas in Grand Canyon National Park and the Southwest’s other treasured public lands.
Watering down the Clean Air Act’s requirements because the plant is located on Navajo Nation land means that without change, it will keep spewing its toxic brew for even more generations.
That’s nothing to celebrate.
Western Clean Air ManagerNational Parks Conservation AssociationSalt Lake City
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