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Implosion Set for NV Coal Stack Today

March 11, 2011

LAS VEGAS - The former Mohave Generating Station's 500-foot smokestack is set to bite the dust today in Laughlin - as long as the wind cooperates.

For 40 years, Mohave was the largest coal-fired power plant in Nevada. The plant shut down in 2005 after a long legal battle.

Vinny Spotleson, western regional organizer at the Sierra Club's Las Vegas field office, says the result has been cleaner and healthier air for Nevada and neighboring Arizona - as well as a significant reduction in area global-warming emissions.

"We've had decreased greenhouse gases over the last 10 years, despite our growth, but just because of the closure of this one plant. And that's adding almost a million people to our population, so that just shows you how significant these power plants are in terms of sources of pollution."

The plant's operators say they intended to comply with a court order to install $1 billion in pollution controls, but opted to shut down after they failed to reach needed agreements with local tribes and a coal-mining company. Spotleson says Mohave produced more pollution than all three of Nevada's remaining coal plants combined - and those plants are still operating.

Jack Ehrhardt, planning and economic development director with the Hualapai Tribe, was involved in the long legal fight. Concerns in both Nevada and Arizona about the loss of several hundred jobs when the plant shut down were legitimate, Ehrhardt says, but new jobs are being created as solar- and wind-energy projects are built.

"Because you can't tear down without bringing the good and bringing the new; and sometimes that's difficult when you're staring at a giant corporation who's stuck in their old ways. So, we're keeping that promise. We're all working to try and bring the new forward, the healthier energy."

Part of the Hualapai tribe's income is generated by air tours of the Grand Canyon. Ehrhardt says haze from the coal plant used to disrupt those tours, even though the tribe is located about 100 miles from the old smokestack in Laughlin.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV