EPA targets wrong cause of haze in Grand Canyon

The EPA is targeting the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in regard to its emissions of nitrogen oxides the EPA claims cause most of the haze in the Grand Canyon. The EPA is insisting that NGS install “selective catalytic reduction” to control nitrogen oxides at an added cost of $48 million per year, even though, just two years ago, the plant installed devices to control nitrogen oxides. This EPA action is of particular concern to Southern Arizona because NGS supplies the electricity to run pumps that provide Southern Arizona with water via the Central Arizona Project Canal.

In the chart below, compiled from data produced by the Western Regional Air Partnership (part of the Western Governor’s Association), we see that nitrogen oxide emissions from electrical generating stations represent only about 1 percent of the constituents of haze in the Grand Canyon. Most haze is a combination of soot, dust and sulfates.


In the pie chart above, we see that nitrates constitute about 8% of haze. The bar chart, if it is to proportional scale, indicates that nitrates from power plants (see asterisk) comprise about 13% of total nitrates; therefore, nitrate contribution to total haze is about 1% (8% of 13% = 1%). See here for a clearer view of the chart. The EPA is, therefore, imposing a very expensive requirement to target less than one percent of the problem. This seems to be part of the Obama Administration’s general war on coal.

William Yeatman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes that:

“Regional Haze is an aesthetic regulation pursuant to the Clean Air Act. Its purpose is to improve visibility at federal National Parks and Wilderness Areas. It is the only aesthetic regulation in the Clean Air Act. This point bears repeating: Unlike every other regulation established by the Clean Air Act, Regional Haze has nothing to do with public health.

“Another hallmark of the Regional Haze regulation is State primacy. Whereas EPA is the lead decision-maker when it comes to setting public health standards pursuant to the Clean Air Act, the Congress intended for the States to render determinations on Regional Haze.

“After countless hours of deliberation by State officials and significant public participation, Arizona submitted a Regional Haze implementation plan to the EPA in February 2011. Despite the Congress’s intention that States take the lead on Regional Haze decision-making, EPA Region 9 in mid-July disapproved Arizona’s submission, and proposed a federal implementation plan in its stead.”

In addition to harassing the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona, the EPA found fault with Arizona’s proposed regulations for control of nitrogen oxides (NOx) for the Apache Generating Station near Cochise, Arizona, for Cholla Power Plant near Joseph City, Arizona, and for the Coronado Generating Station near St. Johns, Arizona.

There is an interesting coincidence. An environmental group, the National Parks Conservation Association, has been running hit pieces on the Navajo Generating Station. Our new Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, has long been a board member of that organization (but her name has recently been removed from its list). It’s just a small world.

The EPA is holding some hearings in Arizona on its proposed haze regulations. A meeting will be held in Tucson, Friday, November 15, 6-9pm, at Proscenium Theatre, Pima Community College West Campus, Center for the Arts Building, 2 miles west of I-10 on St. Mary’s Road.

Stop by an ask the EPA why they are proposing regulations that will add $1.1 billion in costs to your water and power bills with no perceptible benefit to visibility.


  1. with Arizona a huge energy exporter, I’d say on a scale of Alaska but I’m not sure about this amount.. from the largest contingent of Atomic power planets in the world located just north of us.. it’s interesting to see them go after the Indians at four corners.

  2. This boils down to “The Ends justify the Means”. What will they go after next after hundreds of Navajos lose their jobs on a reservation with ~20+% unemployment and energy prices rise in a state with few other options for electricity (especially southern Arizona). It is energy imperialism by the eastern, mainly privately owned states vs. western, mostly publicly owned states.

  3. well if one just looks at the ‘air flow’ in the nation – in the west this predominately moves from NorthWest down to South East in the winter, from west to east in mid summer, the “Santa Anna’s” and from Southwest to Northeast in the summer monsoon season – it “rarely moves from “Due East to West” which is four corners to the Grand Canyon – if they want to blame someone on the pollution – the the LA Haze that blows in from the Los Angles basin moving northeast from southwest.. now there’s a source of pollution – but it’s hard to tax them and destroy them ecowise like they can attack the coal plant. Oh and there plenty of better coal just over the border, but clinton made it off limits.. just miles away in southern utah. Just say’n….

  4. Just another take over by the Federal Bureaucracy. It’s not about the air. It’s about control. They’ve got 1/6th of our economy with Obamacare. Before this thugocracy leaves office little will be in the private sector. Get together ALL freedom loving groups and start to stand by each other. We can’t bicker over things like drugs beginning legalized or not when our freedom is on the line.

  5. Another example of federal agency overreach that is not an enumerated power, nor is it cottoned within the intent of the Congressional actions. EPA has things backward, the bureaucrats have failed to recognize that Arizona and the Navajo Nation are the sovereigns in this issue, and it is the sovereigns who should be evaluating the EPA’s desired rule for consistency, viability, economic impact and environmental impact. It is time to reign in the EPA and restore Constitutionally sound balance.

  6. Electric cars ultimately run on electricity produced by coal fired plants like the Navajo Generating Station. To the dispassionate observer, this fact is inescapable, but not to Obama’s belief-driven EPA.

  7. The EPA is, therefore, imposing a very expensive requirement to target less than one percent of the problem. This seems to be part of the Obama Administration’s general war on coal…. another campaign success – the ideopoliticians win out again

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