More than 25,000 public comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were to be submitted by Monday, June 11, calling for stronger pollution controls for the Reid Garner coal-fired power plant near Moapa.
A coalition of groups led by the Sierra Club and the Moapa Band of Paiutes were to have submitted, 25,627 comments to EPA criticizing the State of Nevada’s “weak proposal” and urging the agency instead to require the Reid Gardner coal plant to install the best available pollution controls, according to a report sent out by the coalition.
“The EPA has already required much stronger technology on many other coal-fired power plants around the country," said Jane Feldman, a local Sierra Club leader in Las Vegas, in the report. “We ask that the EPA do its job and protect public health and the environment from pollution here in southern Nevada.”
But NV Energy says it’s already conforming.
“NV Energy will continue its commitment to operate the Reid Gardner Generating Station in an environmentally responsible manner, in compliance with all federal and state laws, and in the best interests of our customers,” NV Energy spokesman Mark Severts told the MLN.
“Reid Gardner’s more than 4,000 tons of nitrogen oxide pollution each year combine with other compounds to form dangerous smog (ground-level ozone) and soot (fine particle pollution), which worsen asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, allergies, sinus problems, ear infections, thyroid disease and heart disease -- and result in about $28 million in yearly health costs for southern Nevadans, according to the Clean Air Task Force,” Feldman said.
“Reid Gardner’s nitrogen oxide emissions also degrade visibility at Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks,” she added
(But) we support the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal that would require changes at our Reid Gardner Generating Station to help improve regional haze,” Severts responded. “The station already has significantly reduced its oxides of nitrogen emissions with the use of low-NOx burners and a ‘rotating opposed fired air system’ on the largest unit to reduce oxides of nitrogen emissions.”
But Feldman maintains the high levels of toxic air pollution coming from the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant have particularly threatened the Moapa Band of Paiutes.
“The Moapa River Indian Reservation in southeastern Nevada rests just yards from the coal-fired power plant,” she added. “The tribe has experienced alarmingly high rates of asthma, lung and heart disease.”
“The Reid Gardner Generating Station – unlike some similar-aged power plants elsewhere in the nation – has already undergone extensive improvements to its emissions and operations,” Severts said.
“For example, we recently added technology to capture 99.9 percent of all particulate emissions. Our high-efficiency scrubbing systems allow it to consistently rank among the top 10 percent of plants nationwide for low sulfur emissions. The power plant site is a zero-liquid-discharge (ZDL) facility and utilizes pond/landfill lining systems that exceed current state and federal requirements,” the power company official explained.
In April, the Moapa Band of Paiutes held a three-day, 50-mile cultural healing walk from their reservation to the Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas in order to raise awareness to what the tribe called the “immense damage that the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant is doing to the tribe's health, culture and economy through toxic pollution.”
An EPA hearing on the Moapa reservation May 3 was attended by over 100 people, mainly members of the tribe who testified that they had suffered “from Reid Gardner’s toxic air pollution.”
“The need to install strong pollution controls on the Reid Gardner plant represents more than reducing dangerous pollution, but it is very much about the lives that will be saved by strong protections. Air pollution has caused a great concern for my family and tribal members on the reservation. I am so proud to see the more than 25,000 Americans that stand in support for installing strong protections on the Reid Gardner plant,” said Moapa Band of Pauites Chairman William Anderson in the coalition report.
Feldman added the Sierra Club and “thousands of allies across the nation stand with the Moapa Paiutes” in demanding that EPA ensure the best available pollution controls are required for the Southern Nevada power plant as long as it is in operation.
The EPA is expected to release its final decision on July 12.