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Voter League Backs EPA San Juan Plan

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The League of Women Voters of New Mexico is backing a federal plan calling for expensive pollution controls at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station.

In a May 31 letter to Gov. Susana Martinez, the nonpartisan group said it supports “aggressive action” to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, calling climate change one of the most serious threats to the state’s health and economy.

“We are asking you to uphold the Clean Air Act by ensuring that PNM complies with EPA’s requirement for the installation of selective catalytic reduction controls (per the 10th Circuit Court’s March 2 decision rejecting the stay request),” the group said.

It contends SCR technology — viewed by the Environmental Protection Agency as the most cost-effective way for the plant to meet federal requirements — would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent. Nitrogen oxide is a main contributor to haze pollution. The LWV says it also has severe negative health effects. It says a selective noncatalytic reduction alternative proposed by the state would cut the emissions by only 20 percent.

If SCR is not installed, the LWV urged Martinez “to require PNM to retire one or more of its coal-fired units altogether and replace them with clean energy.”

PNM, which owns about half of San Juan, and the state appealed the EPA ruling in federal court, arguing the state plan would achieve similar visibility results for $77 million versus $750 million or more for SCR.

The EPA previously said SCR could be installed for only about $345 million. Martinez has asked EPA to stay the rule in order to examine other alternatives and EPA recently appeared to leave the door open for such a plan.

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