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EPA Urged to Apply New Mexico Coal-Plant Pollution Limits in Nevada

August 25, 2011

LAS VEGAS - It's now up to the Environmental Protection Agency to decide what kind of pollution limits the Reid Gardner coal-burning power plant must meet to protect air quality for southern Nevada and neighboring states.

The Moapa Paiute tribe is located a couple hundred yards from the plant. In comments to the EPA this week, tribal chairman William Anderson said people in Nevada would be a lot safer if the power plant had to meet the same kind of pollution limits that are the law of the land for a similar plant in New Mexico.

"The EPA in that region was able to go ahead and have them cut down their emissions 90 percent. For the Region Nine area, like here in the state of Nevada, they are trying to only reduce it to like 40 percent."

When pollution-related health costs for his tribe and neighbors in the region are tallied, Anderson says, the price tag totals $28 million a year.

"Too many of our children here have asthma. Too many have respiratory illnesses. For some people that are close by, it is dangerous to be outside. Some of our elders say they can feel their skin burn on certain days."

The plant was built in the 1960s and the state is requesting pollution controls that would drop emissions by 40 percent. Anderson says the EPA made the right move with the San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico, and that if those controls were put in place in Nevada they would cut nitrogen oxide pollution by 90 percent.

Plant owner NV Energy says pollution limits at the 40 percent level meet current Clean Air Act requirements and are more affordable. Anderson says Reid Gardner emits more than 4,000 tons of nitrogen oxide pollution each year, which he says creates a hazardous haze that impacts not only his tribe but also residents of southern Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

Mike Clifford/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - NV