The Environmental Protection Agency has initiated rulemakings to address the pollution levels being emitted by the two coal-fired power plants in the Farmington area.
These separate but parallel processes present a significant opportunity for the regions air quality and associated public, environmental and economic health and their effectiveness will be enhanced by the extent to which the EPA seeks input and coordination in the rulemakings.
This would seem to be a no-brainer, but the EPA as with many federal agencies is a complex and complicated entity. Divided as it is into different jurisdictional regions, the EPA can approach such rulemakings from different perspectives, depending on the leadership of a particular region and the politics of the region it governs. That is certainly the case in the power plant rulemakings.
The Four Corners Power Plant is on Navajo land and, as such, is under the jurisdiction of EPA Region 9 in San Francisco. That regions administrator, Jared Blumenfeld, has made environmental justice a priority during his tenure and has noted that the coal complex on tribal lands is an example of what not to do in that department.
His sentiment, however, is complicated by the politics that infuse his region, and the agencys attention to those factors is essential. In its proposed rule for the Four Corners Power Plant, EPA Region 9 has extended public hearing opportunities to residents throughout the area with a Durango hearing scheduled for March 31. Weighing in on the cleanup proposal is essential from a regional perspective we all breathe the same air regardless of state line or tribal boundaries and the EPA needs to hear that message.
The San Juan Generating Station, which is not on tribal land, falls under the governance of EPAs Region 6, headquartered in Dallas. Al Armendariz is that regions administrator, and has used the rulemaking opportunity for the San Juan facility as one in which to propose stringent pollution controls. As of now, there are no public hearings planned for Southwest Colorado residents; a hearing in Farmington tonight is all that has been scheduled. Nevertheless, there is a comment period that extends to all of us the opportunity to weigh in on the EPAs strong proposed rule for San Juan Generating Station. Doing so will benefit us all.
In an ideal world, these processes would be coordinated so that the public had many and streamlined ways to participate and provide input. Alas, that is not the case. The different EPA regions have different personalities and politics at play. The best we can all do is stay informed, involved and supportive of the strong proposals to clean up these two notorious polluters.
Attend a hearing if you can, send comments if you cannot. The more this regions residents weigh in on our collective concern for a shared resource the air we breathe and its importance for our health, environment and economic well-being, the more we all benefit from these unprecedented opportunities the EPA is undertaking.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Megan Graham is director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.