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Home > Feature Articles > Municipality Strategies for Sustainable Community Best Practices

Coal-Burning Power Plant in Four Corners Area, NM, Approved by EPA

1,500 megawatt Desert Rock Energy Facility to be located on the Navajo Nation, approximately 25 miles southwest of Farmington, New Mex., in the Four Corners area

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Pulverized Coal-burning Power Plant in New Mexico

In July, 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an air permit for the new 1,500 megawatt Desert Rock Energy Facility to be located on the Navajo Nation, approximately 25 miles southwest of Farmington, New Mex., in the Four Corners area.

The emission limits required by the permit for the Desert Rock power plant, planned by Desert Rock Energy Company, a subsidiary of Sithe Global Power LLC, are some of the most stringent in the country and will set a new level of performance for coal-fired plants in the United States.

“The Desert Rock power plant will be one of the cleanest pulverized coal-burning power plants in the country,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. The permit process involved the completion of comprehensive technical analyses that ensure pollution levels safeguard public health and the environment. These analyses make certain that the existing air quality will not deteriorate as a result of the plant.

In addition, the EPA conducted an exhaustive review of over 1,000 public comment letters submitted to the agency during the comment period. The agency made several improvements to the permit in response to those comments.

Generating or Purchasing Sulfur Dioxide Credits

On top of the most stringent controls in the country, the Desert Rock Energy Facility has entered into an agreement with the Navajo Nation to further reduce sulfur dioxide emissions in the area by generating or purchasing sulfur dioxide credits and retiring them. Under the agreement, the company will also contribute additional funds toward environmental improvement projects that would reduce or prevent air pollution. These projects may include purchasing and retiring additional emission reduction credits or allowances, or other studies that would provide a foundation for air quality improvement programs.

Economic Development and Jobs

Since its inception, the Navajo Nation’s leaders have staunchly supported this project. With unemployment rates at record levels, well above national averages, the Desert Rock Energy Facility will boost the Navajo Nation’s local economy.

It will create between 2,000 and 3,000 construction jobs and, during the first year of operation, it will bring $54 million in revenue to the tribe. The revenues will be used to fund vital programs including a wide variety of social services such as, fire, police, health care, education, counseling and environmental protection.

To review a copy of the permit, responses to public comments and other related documents, please visit:

To view the feature story with additional information including background and comparison emissions charts, please visit:

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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