How Will the Recent EPA Decision Impact Your National Park Experience
Federal regulators are requiring new pollution controls at Utah’s oldest coal-fired plants to reduce haze near national parks.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday officials will require new equipment to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at some Rocky Mountain Power coal plant plants.
Monica Morales is the air program director in the regional air. She said the EPA made a final determination to partially approve and partially disapprove the state of Utah’s Regional Haze Plan.
“In place of the partial disapproval, EPA issued a federal plan that will require the installation of emission control technologies to reduce nitrogen monoxide emissions from four power plants,” including Rocky Mount Power’s Huntington and Hunter Plants in Utah’s Emery County, she said. “The emission reductions will be achieved are greater than 9,800 tons per year of nitrogen oxide emissions.”
Randy Martin, an associate research professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Utah State University, said the reduction of nearly 10 thousand tons per year is a significant step in the right direction.
“'Nox' has a significant impact on not only particle formation but also ozone formation and in our atmosphere," he said. "All that goes to increases in visibility."
Morales said the state's plan addresses particulate matter at these plants, especially in Canyonlands. Analysis showed that they were going to get visibility improvement of at least three deciviews.
The site they are talking about is Islands in The Sky, Martin said.
“It is a gorgeous, gorgeous location,” he said. “But what they are talking about is these changes in their mandating now are going to improve by two to three deciviews.”
A two to three change in deciview is equivalent to a change of 20 to 30 kilometers of visibility reduction.
Environmental groups cheered the EPA’s decision, which the agency said would clear haze near eastern Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, in addition to other conservation and wilderness areas.
Rocky Mountain Power spokesman David Eskelsen they are disappointed by the decision because it will cost about $700 million to make the changes -- a cost that will be passed on to customers. The company also claimed the changes will not cut emissions or improve visibility.
He said the company is evaluating its legal options.