John Denver sang about a “Rocky Mountain High,” and Coors Brewing Co. promoted beer made with “sky blue mountain waters.”
But now scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have confirmed that the largest polluters in the nation are the two coal-fueled power plants in northwest New Mexico, and they did it from space. Not only that, they were able to establish that the San Juan Generating Station actually emits a lower level of air pollution and greenhouse gases than its neighbor, the Four Corners Generating Station.
“Now they’ve established that they’re capable of doing this, providing evidence that it’s possible,” Los Alamos lab spokeswoman Nancy Ambrosiano said. “They can do it on a global scale if someone decides that’s something that should be done.”
The study was done from May through September 2012, before the Four Corners Generating Station shut down three of its units at the end of December. The San Juan plant has filed a plan to decommission two units at its plant and install carbon emission-reducing technology on the others and expects a ruling on the plan by the end of the year.
Senior scientist for the project, Mavendra Dubey, said this ability may help verify that international regulations on fossil energy emissions as established in treaties are being followed.