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Appeals Court Enforces EPA Rules on AZ Pollution Controls

A federal appeals court ruled that the Coronado Power Plant in northeastern Arizona must comply with EPA regulations and install pollution controls. (click/morguefile)
A federal appeals court ruled that the Coronado Power Plant in northeastern Arizona must comply with EPA regulations and install pollution controls. (click/morguefile)
February 26, 2016

PHOENIX - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Arizona must comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Regional Haze Plan to protect air quality in national parks.

The judges ruled that the operator of the Coronado coal-fired power plant in St. Johns must install pollution controls to meet EPA standards. Stephanie Kodish, director and counsel for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the ruling should clear the air.

"The coal plants that are at issue are some of the most egregious violators of air-quality protections within national parks, and have for decades caused visibility impairment, and impairment to air quality in those places."

In addition to the Coronado plant, the ruling also applied EPA regulations to the nearby Cholla and Apache generating plants. Officials with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, whose own haze-reduction plan was rejected by the court, would not comment beyond saying they are reviewing the ruling.

"Kodish said the appeals court ruling is in keeping with existing legal precedent and reinforces the EPA's power to regulate emissions that pollute the air on public lands.

"This particular case, while it speaks only to Arizona and speaks specifically to these particular coal plants, it fits into a broader mosaic of cases that affirm EPA's authority to protect our national parks and wildernesses," she said.

The National Parks Conservation Association joined with the Sierra Club and the environmental law firm Earthjustice to file the lawsuit in 2013.

The text of the opinion is online at earthjustice.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ