Editorial: Clean air, energy and tribal water rights colliding

"That's why the Chandler Chamber of Commerce had CAP board President Pamela Pickard speak at an economic forum last week. Pickard told the crowd of businesspeople that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to impose further emission controls at the Navajo Generating Station.

The coal-fired plant, near Page in northern Arizona, supplies energy to pump water from the Colorado River to the Valley through canals and fulfills water-rights settlement obligations to tribes, such as the Gila River Indian Community.

Pickard says the plant's owners recently completed a voluntary $45 million upgrade to clear up the haze, under the federal Clean Air Act, and want time for the upgrade to work. The newer control system could cost millions more.

The plant, like the EPA, has its opponents and its supporters. Environmentalists see the Navajo Generating Station as a health and aesthetic hazard. Emissions affect visibility at the Grand Canyon. If the plant were shuttered, it would affect the local economies of Page, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe, and send ripple effects to the Valley. The more expensive technology could cause water and energy rates to go up."

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Opinion: Leave water out of clean-air battle (The Arizona Republic 1/31)

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