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Conservation Groups Oppose Four Corners Power Plant Lease

PHOTO: Conservation groups are opposing a new 25-year lease for the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant. Photo credit: EcoFlight and San Juan Citizens Alliance.
PHOTO: Conservation groups are opposing a new 25-year lease for the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant. Photo credit: EcoFlight and San Juan Citizens Alliance.
May 30, 2014

PHOENIX – Conservation groups are calling on the federal government to not allow the Four Corners Power Plant to burn coal for another quarter century.

Mike Eisenfeld with the San Juan Citizens Alliance says the U.S. Interior Department is considering a 25-year lease on the power plant with Arizona Public Service (APS).

He says an environmental impact statement predicts the Four Corners Power Plant will continue to emit high levels of carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change.

"This document hardly even recognizes the enormous impact the Four Corners Power Plant would have on the entire Southwest region, when it comes to climate change and disruptions of natural systems, and the drought conditions that exist here," he states.

The plant is located near Farmington, New Mexico, and provides electricity to Phoenix and other parts of the Southwest.

Arizona Public Service is hoping to extend a lease with the federal government on the coal-fired power plant that would start in 2016.

Eisenfeld says the federal government appears to be at odds with itself, given the recent release of the National Climate Assessment.

The report says as temperatures continue to rise, droughts in the Southwest will be longer, prompting dryer conditions that will cause more major wildfires.

Eisenfeld says it doesn't make sense that the Interior Department would approve a coal-fired power plant, which he calls a major contributor to climate change in the region.

"The federal government's saying, 'You know, we need to take immediate action to stop this environmental catastrophe,'” he points out. “We're kind of going, 'Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing here?'

“A climate action plan's coming. There's a good chance that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are going to be regulated. There are other regulatory issues associated with this 50-year-old coal plant."

According to Eisenfeld, the Four Corners Power Plant emits more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

He says the hope is that the Interior Department will opt to replace the coal plant with renewable energy, such as solar power, within the next few years.



Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ