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Anti-Coal Coalition Seeks San Juan Plant Transition

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Saying it’s time for PNM to move to clean energy sources, a coalition of environmental, health and faith groups informed state officials at a hearing Monday it’s launched a statewide petition drive calling for a transition from coal at the San Juan power plant.

“The key word is transition plan,” 350.org New Mexico organizer Deirdre Smith told the Journal, saying the groups realize the plant can’t be shut down immediately. “We want experts to come up with a real transition plan so we can start seeing cleaner energy in New Mexico over the coming years.”

Barbara Boehms, a speaker at the hearing at the Alamosa Community Center, said 2,000 signatures have been collected so far. Other groups involved in include the Sierra Club, Interfaith Power & Light and New Energy Economy.

The petition calls for the retirement of San Juan’s four coal units, repowering the state with clean, renewable energy and regenerating the state’s and Four Corners’ economy through economic development zones. It contends even with more controls, the plant still would consume vast amounts of water and emit carbon pollution.

The state Environment Department is conducting hearings for public comments on efforts to find an alternative to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan that would require PNM and other owners of San Juan to install more pollution controls to reduce regional haze.

PNM says EPA’s solution would cost at least $750 million, while the agency says it could be done for $345 million. The state proposed an alternative technology that would achieve similar visibility improvements but could be installed for $77 million. It was not approved by the EPA. The state and PNM are contesting the EPA plan in federal court.

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