8/21/2012 10:55:00 AM EPA extends public comment period for visibility rule at three Arizona power plants Proponents of rule claim regulations will improve visibility at 18 National Parks and Wilderness Areas
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - In an attempt to improve visibility at the Grand Canyon, along with 18 national parks and wilderness areas, including, Saguaro National Park and the Petrified Forest, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve Arizona's air quality plan to control sulfur dioxide and soot at three power plants in the state. EPA is also proposing additional pollution controls for nitrogen oxide at those plants.
According to a news release from the EPA, 90 percent of the time, the Grand Canyon's air is impaired by pollution. On average, pollution reduces the Grand Canyon's visual range by more than 30 percent.
The EPA is proposing to approve Arizona's plan that controls emissions of sulfur dioxide and coarse particles from the older boilers at three power plants located in eastern Arizona. In addition, EPA is proposing a federal plan to limit nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions at these same three plants. Specifically, the proposal is designed to cut NOx emissions by 7,800 tons per year at the Cholla Power Plant, 4,700 tons/year at the Apache Generating Station, and 4,500 tons/year at the Coronado Generating Station.
"Visitors to magnificent national parks in Arizona like the Grand Canyon are critical to the state's economy," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "This proposal will make scenic vistas clearer while cleaning the air that Arizonans breathe."
Under the Clean Air Act, Congress set a long-term goal of restoring natural visibility conditions in numerous national parks and wilderness areas throughout the United States, known as Class 1 Areas. One of the strategies for achieving this goal is the use of Best Available Retrofit Technology at older power plants that cause or contribute to visibility impairment at Class I areas. The three power plants impact 18 of these areas.
The EPA is soliciting public comments on the proposal through August 31. The deadline for final EPA action is November 15.
For additional information on the proposed rulemaking and opportunities to provide input, please go to: http://www.epa.gov/region9/air/actions/az.html#all.