The Moapa Band of Paiutes and environmental allies have filed suit in federal court attempting to overturn a recent EPA ruling allowing the Reid Gardner power plant to continue to operate.
William Anderson, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, says the suit has been brought because the plant is located just a couple hundred yards from the homes of Moapa Paiute families in Moapa.
“What do you do when you’ve seen so many of your friends and neighbors get sick from the coal plant soot and chemicals and ash waste for so many years?” Anderson asked in an e-mail release sent to the MLN. “We’ve advocated, we’ve gone to regulators, we’re building commercial-scale solar, but still the coal pollution and illness are here. We’ve seen coal at Reid Gardner become too costly to make economic sense, but still NV Energy doesn’t retire a plant that’s almost 50 years old now. Somewhere there has to be some justice. Somewhere there has to be some rational leadership from NV Energy and state utility regulators.”
The lawsuit was filed in 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco by Earthjustice on behalf of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, Sierra Club, and the National Parks Conservation Association.
It appeals an EPA decision earlier this year that allowed what Anderson says are ongoing high rates of nitrogen oxide pollution. He says Reid Gardner, instead, should be required to upgrade to the best available controls, called selective catalytic reduction.
“That can reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by 90 percent and is now in use on more than 200 coal plants around the country,” Anderson’s release noted. “Nitrogen oxides harm the respiratory system and form ground-level ozone and the fine particulate pollution that can cause heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks and lung cancer.”
The Moapa Paiutes and Sierra Club have maintained that retirement and transition to cleaner sources is the wise path for Reid Gardner given its old age and high costs.
However, until that day comes, the groups say the plant has to be required to update with the best air pollution equipment available, “not the inferior measures currently required by EPA, given the heavy impact the plant’s pollution has on the health of Moapa Paiute families and on smog haze at nearby national parks such as Zion and Grand Canyon.”
The release says Sen. Harry Reid has called for retirement of the Reid Gardner coal plant. An economic analysis on behalf of the Sierra Club by Resource Insight, Inc., found that retiring Reid Gardner in a transition to increased energy efficiency would save ratepayers $59 million over prolonging the plant’s operations; and a study by Wingra Engineering, S.C., of Madison, Wisc., conducted for the Sierra Club claims there are significant problems with another coal pollutant at the facility: sulfur dioxide.