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EPA Orders Utah Power Plants to Cut Emissions

The EPA has ordered two power plants in central Utah to cut emissions which are causing haze in several national parks and wilderness areas, including Canyonlands National Park. (National Park Service)
The EPA has ordered two power plants in central Utah to cut emissions which are causing haze in several national parks and wilderness areas, including Canyonlands National Park. (National Park Service)
June 3, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY - The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the operator of two coal-fired power plants in central Utah to bring their emissions up to federal clean-air standards.

The EPA acted in response to outdoor recreation businesses that say coal haze from PacifiCorp's Hunter and Huntington generating plants is disrupting their businesses.

Shane Levy, senior press secretary with the Sierra Club, says the ruling will clear the air in some of the country's most popular national parks and wilderness areas.

"All told, there are nine Class I areas impacted or threatened by pollution," says Levy. "That's Utah's five national parks, the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Flat Tops Wilderness Area in Colorado."

Under the EPA order, the power plants must install pollution controls that will reduce haze-causing nitrogen oxide emissions by about 10,000 tons a year within five years.

PacifiCorp issued a statement saying it disagrees with the ruling and is evaluating its legal options.

More than 100 recreation-related businesses, along with groups in Utah, Arizona and Colorado, joined the Sierra Club petition to the EPA, citing the Clean Air Act's Regional Haze Rule.

Chris Steinkamp, who heads the group Protect Our Winters, says outdoor recreation generates billions of tourism dollars across the region.

"Our role in this was to try and unite the voices of the outdoor sports community in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, to let the EPA know that air pollution and haze has a direct impact on our tourism that is generated in the national parks," says Steinkamp.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has already required the use of pollution control technology at about 250 coal-fired plants throughout the nation, including many in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT