FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Federal agencies have outlined a plan to clean up the largest coal-fired power plant in the West. Environmentalists speculate this means a transition from coal to renewable energy.
The Navajo Generating Station’s largest owner is the Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation. That agency along with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have formed a working group to study the plant, according to a joint statement. NGS, as it’s called, has been under harsh scrutiny by many environmental groups because of its proximity to the Grand Canyon.
"I think it’s an acknowledgement that air pollution from burning coal hurts public health and the tourism economy," said Andy Bessler, a spokesman for the Sierra Club. "And this is really a good chance to focus the attention the need to transition from coal to clean energy."
The agencies say they plan to look at a range of clean energy options for NGS.
In the statement, the three agencies agree they will work together to support Arizona and tribal stakeholders in finding ways to produce “clean, affordable and reliable power, affordable and sustainable water supplies, and sustainable economic development, while minimizing negative impacts on those who currently obtain significant benefits from NGS, including tribal nations.”
The plant and the coal mine supply hundreds of jobs for members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes.