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EPA “Zeroes-In” on Coal Pollution Problem in Nevada

May 3, 2012

LAS VEGAS - The Environmental Protection Agency will hold an additional hearing today about the fate of the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant - and this one will be on tribal land.

Federal law requires the EPA to hold the hearing close to the source of pollution, according to William Anderson, chairman of the Moapa Paiutes. He says the EPA's initial plan was to hold only one hearing 12 miles from the coal plant.

"It has to be us to go ahead and take that initiative to make sure that they understand what we're going through, and not to go ahead and just blow us off, so that way they can do what's best for the power industry. To me, that's what it seems like, that they're in support of them, rather than the people."

An EPA spokesperson confirms that the meeting was added in response to requests from the tribe. The decision follows a 50-mile culture and healing walk by tribal members on Earth Day to call attention to the smog and pollution they say is responsible for local health hazards.

Jane Feldman, conservation chairwoman for the Sierra Club's Southern Nevada Group, says Reid Gardner is responsible for some 4,000 tons of nitrogen oxide pollution each year - and the EPA's proposed cleanup falls short.

"The best available technology is supposed to be used to clean up these coal-fired power plants, and they're suggesting that second rate is good enough for us here. That's just not right."

Feldman says the decision to hold the additional hearing is good news not just for Native Americans but also for their Nevada neighbors.

"There's lots of people that live between Reid Gardner and Overton that are affected by, not only the burning of the coal-fired power plant but by the coal ash landfills, which is where they put this stuff after it's been cleaned from the smokestacks."

The hearing at the Moapa Reservation will begin at 1 p.m., followed by a 6:30 p.m. hearing at the Moapa Valley Empowerment High School in Overton.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV