Colorado joins fight against coal-fired power plants in Utah

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Huntington coal-fired power plant, in Emery County, Utah. Photo by Lindsay Beebe.

Huntington coal-fired power plant, in Emery County, Utah. Photo by Lindsay Beebe.

Colorado joined the debate about Utah’s coal-fired power plants this week when more than 100 Colorado companies and tourism leaders signed a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency to forcibly reduce pollution.

The EPA released a draft plan in December outlining two ways to deal with nitrogen oxide pollution from Rocky Mountain Power’s Hunter and Huntington coal-fired plants. Hunter and Huntington are two of the oldest and dirtiest plants in Utah, and could be causing 40 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions from Utah’s electricity network, according to the Sierra Club.

The state of Utah claims previous upgrades to the plants are sufficient, according to the Denver Post, which is essentially what advocacy groups are calling the “do-nothing” approach the EPA could take. The EPA’s alternate plan proposes retrofitting the plants with pollution reduction technology that could reduce nitrogen oxides by more than 80 percent.

Utah residents have been vocal supporters of what has been labeled the “Clean Parks Plan,” urging the EPA to take measures that would protect the state’s five national parks and therefore its booming outdoor industry. This week was the first time Colorado companies have banded together in favor of the plan, citing concern for the air quality in Colorado’s parks and federal lands.

SNEWS and other sister publications of Active Interest Media, based in Boulder, Colo., were among the outdoor gear and media companies that signed the letter.

“Colorado’s public lands and national parks, with their stunning views and pristine environments, are critical to the state’s $13.2 billion outdoor-recreation economy,” the letter said.

“Unfortunately, public lands in Colorado and across the Southwest are threatened by dangerous sources of pollution that harm the very environment our growing outdoor-recreation economy depends on.”

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Hunter coal-fired power plant, in Emery County, Utah. Photo by Lindsay Beebe.

Hunter and Huntington directly put Colorado’s economy at risk, the letter said.

The public comment period ended Monday evening and the EPA received more than 55,000 comments in favor of the “Clean Parks Plan,” according to the Sierra Club. But it’s not too late to share your opinion. Even though the public comment period is over, raising awareness is still important.

“Any opinions and commentary directed at the EPA via social media will still have an impact, as it will demonstrate the weight of public opinion to the agency,” Sam Bass, editor and content director of Backbone Media, wrote in an email. Backbone Media works with the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club has started a petition at addup.org which currently has 40,830 of the 50,000 signatures it wants to collect.

On Twitter, tweet your thoughts to @EPA and @EPARegion8, which encompasses Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 27 tribal nations. Find them on Facebook as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. EPA Region 8, and use hashtags #CleanAir4Utah and #CleanAir4Colorado.

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Huntington coal-fired power plant, in Emery County, Utah. Photo by Lindsay Beebe.

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