Mohave Coal Plant Bites the Dust
The boilers at the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nevada, were imploded on June 8. The 40-year-old coal-fired power plant was shuttered in 2005 after hundreds of thousands of pollution violations prompted the Sierra Club and allied groups to take action to retire the plant.
The plant's smokestack was taken down two years ago, and the boilers were scheduled to come down this April, but the implosion was delayed after a Great Horned Owl's nest containing unhatched eggs was found resting on an I-beam. The owls are protected and could not be moved until the eggs hatched. In mid-May, the newborn chicks were moved to a wildlife rehabilitator and will be released into the wild when they are ready.
The Mohave Generating Station was the dirtiest coal plant in the West. It amassed more than 400,000 violations of pollution protection laws between 1993-1998 alone, regularlly depositing coal ash on nearby communities, imperiling the health of area residents, and obscuring views in Grand Canyon National Park.
In 1999, an alliance of conservation groups including the Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust and National Parks Conservation Association secured a court order that gave the plant's owners five years to decide if they would install the required pollution controls or shut the plant down. Mohave's owners chose the latter option, and the plant was finally retired on December 31, 2005.
The coal for the plant came from Peabody Coal Company's mine on Black Mesa, below, located on Navajo Nation lands near the Four Corners. The company transported coal from the mine via a coal slurry line that stretched 273 miles and sent a mix of half groundwater and half coal to the Mohave plant.
The water used to move coal to the Mohave plant was pumped from the Navajo aquifer beneath Black Mesa—the same groundwater source used by local tribes for drinking water and traditional ceremonies. Because so much water—4,000 acre/feet of water per year—was pumped from the aquifer, the slurry line earned the opposition of Navajo and Hopi grassroots activists from several native activist groups, including the Black Mesa Water Coalition, To Nizhoni Ani, Dine CARE, and Black Mesa Trust.
The Sierra Club has been working for years with both tribes and all four groups to bring about a Just Transition from dirty coal to a clean energy economy.
"The Sierra Club understands that each time a smokestack thuds in America, we need to ensure that we will replace that smokestack with clean energy," says Sierra Club environmental justice organizer Andy Bessler, below with his son Noah. "We're working on several fronts to try and help promote the benefits of a clean energy transition in local economies.