Nitrogen oxide makes for hazy days and coughing fits, and Hunter and Huntington Power Plants in southern Utah aren’t blameless.
For example, according to the Eviornmental Protection Agency’s 2017 greenhouse gas emission data, they’re responsible for 43% of nitrous oxide emissions from electricity production in the state.
Technology exists to clean up the nitrogen oxide emissions from these power plants. In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a plan that would require installing a type of pollution control called selective catalytic reduction at the two power plants.
“The selective catalytic reduction, or SCR, removes the nitrogen oxide before it goes up the stack and out into the air. It can reduce this nitrogen oxide by 75%,” said Christopher Thomas, a campaign representative for the Sierra Club.
According to Thomas, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality changed the requirements for pollution controls at Hunter and Huntington Power Plants from SCRs to previously-installed burners that emit less nitrogen oxide.
Spencer Hall, a representative from Rocky Mountain Power said that this alternative will provide better savings to customers because SCRs are expensive. He also said that the EPA plan didn’t consider other attempts by the company to reduce emissions, like their closure of the Carbon power plant.
“The spirit of the law is to reduce emissions," he said, "here’s an alternative that’s in the benefit of the customers.”
According to Thomas, the low nitrogen oxide burners won’t reduce pollution as much as SCRs. The Sierra Club plans to comment on the altered regional haze plan during the EPA’s next public comment period.