U.S. reviews environmental, economic concerns at coal-fired power plant near Grand Canyon

The U.S. government said it will review environmental and economic concerns related to the 2,250 MW coal-fired Navajo Generating Station located about 15 miles from the Grand Canyon.

The U.S. government said it will review the environmental and economic concerns linked to the country's largest coal-fired power plant in the West, the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), Reuters reported.

The 2,250-megawatt power plant sits on an Indian reservation about 15 miles from the Grand Canyon and supplies electricity to residents in Arizona, California and Nevada.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules for power plants that would reduce regional haze in the West; however, the plant's operator has said the requirements would necessitate expensive upgrades to NGS that would make it uneconomical to run.

If the plant were to shut down, 1,000 jobs at the facility and the coal mine that supplies it would be eliminated, Reuters reported.

A study released in 2012 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine contributed nearly $1.3 billion to the Navajo and Hopi economies since 1987.

Pointing to the same study, environmental group the Sierra Club says the report proves environmental upgrades are in fact economically viable.

“The cost of cleaning up the plant would add only pennies to a typical residential power bill. According to the 2012 NREL study, implementing even the most thorough pollution controls would raise the electric rates of power customers by only about one percent," the Sierra Club said in a press release. "During the 1990s, cleaning up acid-rain– causing pollution from the Navajo coal plant ended up costing less than half of what the plant’s operator, Salt River Project, had first estimated.”

In a joint statement from the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, the government organizations said their goal was to find ways to generate "clean, affordable and reliable power" while "minimizing negative impacts on those who currently obtain significant benefits from (the Navajo station), including tribal nations," the article stated.

PennEnergy's research area offers more details on coal mining in the United States.

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