Last week, Gov. Ritter's administration urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its decision to permit the proposed Desert Rock power plant in northwestern
"It is past time that we cleaned up the Four Corners Power plant, one of the largest sources of air pollution in the country, so that we can reduce ozone, people can breath easier, and we can improve our western vistas towards what they used to be and should be." Gov. Ritter said.
Attorney General Suthers added that if the northwestern area of New Mexico is designated as non-attainment because of high ozone levels recently monitored in the area (something the state of New Mexico is contesting), it would be unfair and unreasonable to include
The Four Corners Power Plant, a coal-fired electric generating station, is located on Navajo Nation lands about 25 miles west of
In a letter to Carol Rushin, acting regional administrator for EPA's Region 8, the state said "there is substantial reason to believe the ozone non-attainment issue in
"It is simply past time that this enormous source of pollution was cleaned up; the bill has come due," Gov. Ritter said.
In the letter to Rushin, the state said the Desert Rock plant "…is a significant new source of NOx (nitrogen oxides) and other pollutants in the
Attorney General Suthers pledged that his team of lawyers "will work closely with the Department of Public Health and Environment to protect
Last year, an ozone monitor located at
As a result, EPA is expected to designate at least a portion of northern
Ground-level ozone – not to be confused with the protective, naturally-occurring ozone layer in the earth's stratosphere – is the result of complex atmospheric chemistry in which volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react chemically in the presence of sunlight. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of human health problems, including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It also can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
The Four Corners Power Plant is a 2,040-megawatt, five-unit plant owned by six utilities in the southwest. The proposed Desert Rock Energy Facility is a joint effort of the Navajo Nation's Diné Power Authority and Houston-based Sithe Global Power LLC.
EPA Region 8 encompasses the states of