The Arizona Republic
The good news about the Navajo Generating Station is that the five-year life extension awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency gives its operators additional time — 10 years, in total — to weigh their options.
The bad news: There are no apparent options that do not kill jobs and significantly raise the cost of water in the arid Southwest, perhaps by 40 percent, thus condemning still more jobs. All in the name of a marginal improvement in air quality over the Grand Canyon, the measure of which the EPA’s own research concludes is uncertain.
That is what lies at the heart of this momentous EPA decision. The benefits, however noble, remain as shrouded in uncertainty as the Grand Canyon on its most hazy days.
The economic and financial trade-offs, on the other hand, already are coming starkly and crisply into view. They are by no measure grand.
The EPA announced it will require expensive nitrous-oxide emissions controls at the NGS, the large coal-fired power plant northeast of the Grand Canyon near Page. The 2,250-megawatt facility provides up to 95 percent of the power used to drive Colorado River water uphill through the Central Arizona Project aqueduct system to Arizona’s cities and farmers. It is our lifeblood.
It also is a vital economic driver for the Navajo and Hopi tribes, which mine the coal that fires the power plant. The plant itself employs more than 400 workers, 90 percent of whom are Navajo.