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July 03, 2012

Polluting NM Coal Plant Given More Time to Clean Up

Coal to clean energy
This week the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would give the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) additional time to deal with the pollution from its San Juan coal plant in northwestern New Mexico.

This temporary stay provides a 90-day window for PNM to outline serious options for making the required air pollution reductions at its nearly 40-year-old facility through an alternative pathway, such as coal unit retirements coupled with a planned transition to cleaner energy sources. PNM and the state had requested the temporary stay as a precursor to engaging in discussions about such an alternative. At this time, EPA's 90-day stay does not alter any future compliance dates under the agency's pollution control decision for San Juan Generating Station.

In response, a coalition of community and environmental groups in New Mexico -- including Diné CARE, National Parks Conservation Association, New Energy Economy, San Juan Citizens Alliance, and Sierra Club -- issued the following statement:

Every day that goes by without cutting pollution from PNM's San Juan Generating Station is another day New Mexicans are paying with our respiratory health, paying the health care costs, and seeing our treasured and economically important national parks suffer from smog.

All eyes are now on PNM to use this time responsibly -- to work with concerned residents and groups to lead New Mexico to a clean energy economy that protects public health while creating power and jobs from our abundant sun and wind.

Time is running out, but PNM certainly has the capacity to quickly develop a retirement and transition approach for its coal plant that could reduce more pollution than required by the Clean Air Act, at less cost than installing the required pollution controls, and while ushering in clean energy to spark economic development and jobs in the San Juan Basin. For the benefit of all New Mexicans, PNM needs to finally step forward to make it happen."

This announcement from EPA also comes right as Sierra Club coalition partner New Energy Economy unveiled new billboards and ads urging PNM to switch to clean energy.

Coal to solar
For 40 years now, the dirty San Juan coal plant has been dumping huge amounts of pollution into the air and making local residents sick.

Each year, the San Juan plant is estimated to cause 600 asthma attacks, 50 heart attacks and 33 premature deaths. The San Juan coal plant is also one of the biggest sources of climate change pollution in the western United States, spewing more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

Sierra Club is part of the coalition of environmental and community organizations that have extended an open invitation to PNM and the state to engage in a stakeholder meeting to develop a retirement and transition approach for San Juan Generating Station.

-- Refugio Mata, Sierra Club Deputy Press Secretary

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