Environment
Josh Stephenson/The Durango Herald/AP

EPA plans to close part of New Mexico coal-fired power plant

Move comes a day after Supreme Court ruled cross-border pollution contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states

Federal regulators said they plan to close part of a New Mexico coal-fired power plant, a day after the Supreme Court ruled that pollution that crosses borders contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.

Critics have long complained that the San Juan Generating Station and other coal-fired plants in the Four Corners region — where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah meet — have worsened air quality and visibility at national parks in the area.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed approving a plan negotiated by the agency, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration and the state's largest electric provider, PNM. Wednesday's announcement kicks off a 30-day public comment period.

The plan aims to curb haze-causing pollution from the San Juan plant, in northwestern New Mexico. EPA officials say air pollution has no geographical boundaries and that the plan will improve scenic visibility under the Clean Air Act.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico, the primary owner of the power plant, filed documents with the Public Regulatory Commission seeking permission to proceed with a plan that would close two of four units at the coal-fired station, the Daily Times, an energy magazine, reported on April 3.

The plant will then install emission-reducing technology on the remaining units, and begin to build natural gas units to replace those shut down.

As part of a plan to combat climate change, President Barack Obama has promised to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 as compared with 2005 levels — and is using the EPA and the Clean Air Act to enforce policies to advance those goals.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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