2 Emery County coal plants could face new air quality regulations

Posted at 9:36 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 23:36:15-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The EPA held a public meeting in Salt Lake City Tuesday to discuss possible new air quality regulations.

The regulations would affect Rocky Mountain Power’s Hunter and Huntington coal plants in Emery County.

"Some of the most beautiful places in Utah, we can't see our gorgeous views as well as we once could because unfortunately a range of human activity," said Matt Pacenza, of HEAL Utah.

According to the EPA, pollution from the plants’ smokestacks are responsible for 40 percent of all nitrogen oxide emissions from the state’s electric sector. The new regulations would reduce that haze by 76 percent.

"It seems the world knows two different Utahs: the most beautiful place and then the Utah that is known for its outdated energy portfolio, dirty air, it's exploitation of natural resources," said Caroline Gleich, a clean air activist.

However, a bus load of people from the coal mining industry also attended the public meeting to voice their opposition to the new regulations.

"Nobody is against clean air, but I feel like Rocky Mountain Power has implemented and gone beyond trying to clean up the air," said Sandy Burr, whose husband and son are both coal miners. "We have clean air down there that's why we choose to live there."

Burr believes these regulations will also jeopardize hundreds of jobs.

"Price, Emery; all of those places would just become a ghost town and it would just trickle down to the businesses, to the financial institutions that have loans for these coal miners, for homes, for vehicles, they would lose everything," Burr said.

The public comment period goes until March 14. The EPA is expected to make a decision by June 1.