The NGS on Navajo land in northern Arizona burns coal from the Kayenta Mine, which is co-owned by the Navajo and Hopi nations. The EPA is pondering whether all three units of the NGS should be required to install the “best available” emission-control technologies, perhaps costing more than $1.1 billion. More than 80 percent of the power plant’s employees are Navajo, many of whom speak Navajo to help preserve the nation’s culture. In 2007, the percentage of the Navajo Nation’s population living in poverty was 36.8.
But the Navajos, the plant and the mine that powers it may be sacrificed to this dubious environmental crusade. The new technology would reduce nitrate aerosols. They, however, are responsible for just 4 percent of what is called “light extinction” over the Grand Canyon.
Water falls unbidden from the sky but must be pumped to Arizonans — Tucson is 2,500 feet above sea level. The NGS provides 95 percent of the power for the pumps of the Central Arizona Project (CAP), which made Phoenix and most of modern Arizona possible. A study sponsored by the Interior Department estimates that the EPA’s mandate might increase the cost of water by as much as 32 percent, hitting agriculture users especially hard. They might be driven back to using scarce groundwater — which was supposed to be protected by the CAP. That is why many environmentalists supported the CAP, one of the largest reclamation projects in U.S. history.
An Arizona State University study estimates that between now and 2044, the NGS and the mine will contribute $20 billion to the state’s economy and provide 3,000 jobs each year. If there is an NGS. Its site lease expires in 2019. If the EPA mandates the most expensive technologies, each of the NGS owners would have to weigh whether it is sensible to make large capital investments in a plant that might not operate after that. Furthermore, one of the six owners of the NGS is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which may be prohibited by California law — the state may be destitute, but it is determined to fix the climate — from making investments that will extend the life of coal-fired plants.
Testifying to Congress last February, an EPA official uttered the six-word incantation that summarizes Obama administration policies and progressivism generally: “We do not have to choose.” It is, the official said, quoting President Obama, a “false debate” that we have to choose between the “public health benefits from reducing air pollution from power plants” and “growing this economy in a robust way.” …
In 1990, Congress passed the Clean Air Act amendments, which high-mindedly mandated restoration of visibility in parks and wilderness areas to natural conditions. “Natural” meaning what? Before humanity? Anyway, the EPA is empowered to make this happen, so it empowers its professional writers of regulations — sometimes 26-year-olds fresh from law school — to maximize regulations to that end. These are regulations that others must live with while minimizing the damage the regulations cause.