Environmental review on for NGS and Kayenta Mine

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is conducting an environmental review of a proposal to extend operation of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) and the Kayenta Mine from 2020 through 2044.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of extending operation of the Navajo Generating Station, located near Page, Arizona and the associated production of coal at the Kayenta Mine, located near Kayenta, Arizona, from 2020 through 2044.

The purpose of the proposed project is to continue to produce electricity at the Navajo Generating Station using coal supplied by the Kayenta Mine. NGS provides power to the Southwestern United States and also provides power to operate the pumps that lift the Colorado River water into and through the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal to be delivered to central and southern Arizona tribes, farmers and cities. Kayenta Mine, located about 80 miles Southeast of NGS, provides coal used to generate this power.

During this period, BOR is seeking public comment on the scope, environmental resources and environmental issues to be considered in the EIS through July 7. A series of public meetings will take place for people to learn about the proposed project from June 10-20 across the Hopi and Navajo reservations.

The public may arrive at any time during each open house meeting. There will not be a formal presentation but project team members will be on hand to provide information at various stations around the room and to answer any questions about the proposed project. Written comments will be accepted at the meetings and court reporters will be available to record oral comments. Navajo and Hopi interpreters will be present at some of the meetings.

The BOR will use the comments to help identify environmental issues to be analyzed in the EIS, ensure a reasonable range of viable alternatives are evaluated and make a well-informed decision on the proposed project.

The current lease for NGS expires on Dec. 22, 2019. While the Navajo Nation has approved an extension of the lease, federal approval must be obtained before the lease amendment can take effect. Approval for transmission line rights of way is needed. Also, in order for the Kayenta Mine to continue supplying coal to NGS through 2044, the permit to operate the mine must be revised.

While the new Environmental Protection Agency rule about existing coal-fired power plants was announced last week, the rule does not affect NGS.

Scott Harelson, from Salt River Project (SRP), said that the owners of NGS are still considering the new rule and what impact it will have on operations at the plant and on SRP.

"Clearly though the new rule is significant and will likely affect the future use of current generation resources," Harelson said.

NGS is waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to finish considering a proposal that would allow Salt River Project and other NGS owners to retire one of the three units at the plant in exchange for a delay in the installation of emission controls on the other two units.

Harelson said the EPA has primary jurisdiction over the federal air quality regulations that apply to NGS and it will be responsible for developing the plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the plant.

"SRP believes it is important for EPA to create a CO2 emissions reduction plan for NGS that allows CO2 reductions achieved on tribal lands under regional haze requirements to be used in other jurisdictions," Harelson said. "This would permit SRP and the other owners of NGS to use such credits in system-wide compliance approaches that would help reduce program costs for customers."

Open house meetings:

Window Rock - Navajo interpreters available June 10 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Navajo Nation Museum, resource room, Hwy. 264, Postal Loop Road, Window Rock, Arizona.

Kayenta - Navajo interpreters available June 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Monument Valley High School cafeteria, two miles north of Hwy. 160 on Hwy. 163, Kayenta, Arizona.

Shonto - Navajo interpreters available June 13 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Shonto Chapter House. S001-001 E. Navajo Nation Road 221, Shonto, Arizona.

Kykotsmovi - Hopi and Navajo interpreters available June 14 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hopi Day School multipurpose hall, a half-mile east of Village store on Hwy. 264, Kykotsmovi, Arizona.

LeChee - Navajo interpreters available June 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the LeChee Chapter House, five miles south of Page off Coppermine Road, LeChee, Arizona.

Page - Navajo interpreters will be available June 17 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the City Hall Townhouse, 605 S. Navajo Drive, Page, Arizona.

Tuba City - Hopi and Navajo interpreters will be available June 18 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Tuba City High School cafeteria, Warrior Drive, Tuba City, Arizona.

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