Developers of the proposed Desert Rock power plant on the Navajo Nation reservation near Farmington have lost their bid
for $450 million in stimulus money to install an expensive carbon-capture system in the facility, which would be the
third coal-fired power plant in the Four Corners.
The proponents, the Navajo Nation and Sithe Global, in April were stripped of the air-quality permit they were granted
in the summer of 2008 by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The carbon-capture system is considered a more-effective, but also more-expensive, way to control air pollution.
Although Joe Shirley, the Navajo Nation president, favors the Desert Rock project, it is opposed by environmental
groups, including Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment.
Sithe Global spokesman Frank Maisano said by phone the next step is yet to be determined.
We're not certain what the next step will be, but we'll take our lead from the Navajo Nation and go forward," Maisano
said. There certainly will be new efforts because this is an important project for the Navajo Nation."
Maisano said the Obama administration is supportive of the project.
We hope to have the occasion down the road to present our case again," Maisano said. There will be significant demand
for power in the future."
Mike Eisenfeld, the representative of the San Juan Citizens Alliance in New Mexico, said Wednesday that Desert Rock
proponents are flogging a dead horse. After losing the air-quality permit and the stimulus funding, perhaps it's time
for them to reassess the entire project, he said.
The Department of Energy had 38 applicants for $979 million in carbon-capture grants, Eisenfeld said. It granted only
three, all small, demonstration projects. Desert Rock certainly isn't in that category, he said.
The Desert Rock plant, if completed, would provide 17 percent of the new energy that the region will require by 2015,according to proponents quoted in a report in the Paonia-based High Country News.