Court denies attempt by Gov. Martinez and PNM to stall pollution controls for coal-burning plant
March 1 - DENVER – A federal court ruled today that PNM must comply with a decision last fall requiring the utility to install pollution controls to significantly cut the 16,000 tons a year of harmful haze, ozone, and fine particle-producing nitrogen pollution that pours from the smokestacks each year at the San Juan Generating Station near Farmington, N.M.
Gov. Susana Martinez and PNM had petitioned the court to delay the EPA’s pollution-control requirement from taking effect while they challenge the agency’s decision in court. Today’s 10th Circuit decision denies the Martinez-PNM delay, at the same time sending a positive signal that EPA’s decision stands on solid legal ground.
“Now it’s really time for PNM and Gov. Martinez to stop standing against the health of our communities who breathe this coal plant’s pollution day in and day out,” said Sarah Jane White with the Navajo group Diné CARE. “It’s time they start standing instead where the people of New Mexico stand – on the side of energy from clean sources that create jobs and protect health, land, air and water.”
The San Juan plant sits just outside the borders of Navajo tribal land near Farmington. “As long as San Juan Generating Station is running, it needs the best pollution controls possible,” said White, “but when you look at the smartest use of precious ratepayer dollars, moving off coal to renewable energy is the answer.”
The federal court’s decision comes on the heels of a report released earlier in the week that revealed that while PNM hasbeen fighting EPA’s pollution control requirements, the utility has raised average residential rates 41 percent since 2008, and steered the large majority of the money into corporate profits.
"PNM is already irresponsibly funneling over a hundred million dollars of New Mexicans' hard-earned moneyinto skyrocketing corporate profits during a tough recession,” said New Energy Economy Executive Director Mariel Nanasi. “Now Governor Martinez and the utility should immediately stop wasting more ratepayer and taxpayer money fighting clean air and public health in court, and start investing in cleanenergy."
For decades, nitrogen emissions from coal-burning power plantshave been a major source of harmful haze in the Four Corners region, clouding the air and views in economically important national parks. Premature deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, and hospital visits from San Juan Generating Station’s pollution cost an estimated $255 million a year, according to the Clean Air Task Force.
Nitrogen oxide reacts with other compounds to form small particles that penetrate deeply into sensitive parts of the lungs.It is also a raw ingredient in the formation of ground-level ozone, which leads to asthma attacks, respiratory problems, lung damage, and even premature death.
Western Environmental Law Center and Earthjustice represented the following groups contesting the request by PNM and Gov. Martinez to delay implementation of the pollution controls: New Energy Economy, San Juan Citizens Alliance, National Park Conservation Association, Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment, and Sierra Club.
# # #
• Lori Goodman, Diné CARE, 970-759-1908
• Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy, 505-469-4060
• Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, 505-360-8994
• Jeffrey Billington, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-419-3717
• David Van Winkle, Sierra Club, 505-820-1006
- How Electric Vehicles That Feed the Grid Will Pay Off
- Big Victory: Minnesota's Landmark Clean Energy Standard Charts Course Beyond Dirty Energy
- An Open Letter to Energy Secretary Moniz on Natural Gas Exports
- Huge Victory in Oregon Builds Momentum Against Coal
- Tar Sands and Soda? Launching the Future Fleet Campaign
Join Our On-Line Community
Subscribe to the Rio Grande Chapter e-mail list. Get the most up to date information.
Use this link and help the Rio Grande Chapter earn 6% for our programs
Interactive Map - Coal Plants
Rio Grande Sierran
Click Here to download and read the most recent edition of our newsletter - The Rio Grande Sierran
Do We Have Your Email Address?
Make sure we have your email address. Please send it, along with your name, address and member number to: firstname.lastname@example.org