Corners plant rates at top in pollution category
By Lisa Meerts, Farmington
Daily Times, 7/30/07
No power plant in the country emits
more total nitrogen oxides than the Four Corners Power
Plant, according to a new report compiled from government
data called "Dirty Kilowatts."
It and the San Juan Generating Station both made lists
of the 50 dirtiest power plants in the U.S. for three
pollutants. Neither power plant, however, were among
the dirtiest for sulfur dioxide, a haze-causing pollutant.
And taken on a per megawatt basis, both fell off lists
for carbon dioxide and mercury.
Richard Grimes, environment and health
safety manager at the Four Corners Power Plant, said
controlling nitrogen oxide remains its biggest challenge.
A large plant producing 2,040 megawatts, it likewise
puts out a large amount of emissions. There was a positive
side to the report, he added.
"If you look at the composite score
for the power plant, we don't make the top 50,"
The plant has been retrofitted with
some pollution control technology that has cut nitrogen
oxide emissions in half and sulfur dioxide emissions
by almost 90 percent. As are many plants, Four Corners
also has begun to investigate ways to address carbon
"That's going to be a very large challenge for
all fossil fuel industry," he said.
The Environmental Integrity Project
has compiled the data for four years and has it available
at dirtykilowatts.org. Ilan Elvin, an attorney representing
the nonprofit group, said the same power plants often
reappear on the lists, which looks at carbon dioxide,
mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
It compares total emissions to per megawatt emissions.
The only way a power plant comes off
the list is when it cleans up and that happens only
when it becomes mandated, he said. The project is pushing
for carbon dioxide regulations as well as stricter limits
for regulated pollutants.
"Without federal or state legislation,
based on the track record of the electric power industry,
we don't expect to see these power plants make these
reductions," said Elvin.
The Four Corners Power Plant may be
in compliance with all standards but that's no excuse
for being the No. 1 emitter of nitrogen oxide, he said.
Large power plants across the country have successfully
dropped their nitrogen oxide emissions, so it should
not be too difficult, he added.
The 2,480-megawatt WA Parish power plant
in Texas, for instance, cut its nitrogen oxide emissions
by 90 percent after installing $430 million worth of
technology. David Knox, communications manager for NRG,
which runs the plant, said it was required because Houston
exceeded the health-based ozone standard.
Jeff Buell, a spokesman for PNM, which
runs the San Juan Generating Station, said the numbers
contained in the report do not tell a new story. The
plant meets all the limits set in its air permits and
continues to work toward reducing emissions by, for
instance, installing $300 million of new pollution-control
The Environmental Integrity Group puts
out the information to show people who live near power
plants what exactly blows out of smoke stacks and to
help legislators see the problems, said Elvin. Should
new coal-fired power plants continue to be built, the
pollution issues will increase.
"We hope this report shines a light
on some of those (dirty) power plants but the question
is whether coal can be a part of our energy future,"
Lisa Meerts: firstname.lastname@example.org