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New Mexico Powering Past Coal

San Juan Generating Station to be Shuttered

New Mexico—WildEarth Guardians is applauding a plan to retire more than 900 megawatts of the San Juan Generating Station as a major step forward for clean air, clean energy, and healthy communities.

“This is an amazing milestone for New Mexico and the American West,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director. “With this announcement, it’s increasingly clear that our future lies with clean energy, not coal. We applaud PNM, the State of New Mexico, and the EPA for making this happen.” 

The plan, which was announced today by the State of New Mexico, Public Service Company of New Mexico, or PNM, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was developed after Guardians legal efforts spurred the EPA to adopt an unprecedented clean air retrofit rule for the San Juan Generating Station, New Mexico’s second largest coal-fired power plant. That rule would have required PNM to install top of the line pollution controls to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, a key haze and smog forming pollutant.

Rather than install the controls, PNM instead opted to simply retire a portion of the power plant. The plan calls for retiring two of the four coal-fired boilers at the San Juan Generating Station, which total 924 megawatts, by December 31, 2017, and for installing nominal pollution controls on the other two boilers by January 31, 2016.

“With this plan, both clean air and clean energy come out ahead,” said Nichols. “More importantly, it’s the most affordable course of action. To say this is a win-win plan would be an understatement. This is a success on every level and something other Western states should be keen to replicate.”

Ultimately, the plan will not only curb harmful nitrogen oxide emissions, but reduce other toxic air pollutants, such as mercury and sulfur dioxide, free up more than 4.4 billion gallons of water, and eliminate half of the plant’s toxic coal ash waste. In total, the retirement plan will erase more than 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.

“Guardians has made clear from the very beginning of this effort that the best path forward is not to spend millions to make coal clean, but to develop energy that’s clean from the start,” said Nichols. “Thankfully, there is agreement that the best path forward for the San Juan Generating Station is to power past coal.”


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