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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Air Actions, Nevada

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The Mohave Generating Station and Grand Canyon Visibility: Fact Sheet

Today's Action

June 11, 1999

  • The Environmental Protection Agency is issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to provide information and request comment regarding the Mohave Generating Station's contribution to visibility impairment at the Grand Canyon National Park. The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking signed by the Administrator on June 11, 1999 will be published in the Federal Register to announce the start of the 60-day public comment period.
  • The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) provides background information on Clean Air Act and EPA regulatory requirements for protecting visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. The ANPR also provides a brief summary of the methodologies and results of Project MOHAVE, the study which evaluated the impact of emissions from the Mohave Generating Station on visibility at the Grand Canyon National Park.
  • In the ANPR, EPA is also asking the public to submit additional information that the Agency should consider before determining whether visibility problems at the Grand Canyon can be reasonably attributed to the Mohave Generating Station. EPA is also asking the public to submit information that the Agency should consider in evaluating appropriate pollution control requirements for the facility, should EPA find that the power plant does contribute to the impairment.

Background

  • EPA promulgated visibility regulations in 1980 requiring states to develop implementation plans for addressing visibility impairment in national parks and wilderness areas. These regulations also provide that a Federal Land Manager (FLM) for a national park or wilderness area may certify the existence of visibility impairment in such an area. If the FLM makes such a certification, the state (or EPA if a federal implementation plan for visibility protection is in place in the state) must identify the facility or facilities that are reasonably anticipated to cause or contribute to that visibility impairment. For certain types of sources the state (or EPA) must analyze the "best available retrofit technology" for any facility so identified.
  • In 1985 the Department of the Interior (DOI), Federal Land Manager for the Grand Canyon National Park, certified to EPA the existence of visibility impairment at the Park. On August 19, 1997, DOI sent a letter to EPA that reaffirmed the Department's 1985 certification of visibility impairment at the Grand Canyon and stated DOI's belief that the Mohave Generating Station, located in Laughlin, Nevada, is contributing to that impairment. A federal implementation plan for visibility protection is currently in place in the State of Nevada. Therefore, EPA is responsible for addressing visibility impairment that may be attributed to facilities in Nevada.
  • The Mohave Generating Station is a 1580 MW coal-fired power plant located in Laughlin, Nevada, approximately 75 miles southwest of the Grand Canyon National Park. It was built between 1967 and 1971. It currently emits over 40,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) per year and is one of the largest point sources of SO2 in the West. The Mohave Generating Station is operated by Southern California Edison Company, the majority owner of the plant. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Nevada Power Company, and Salt River Project also own interests in the plant.
  • On March 22, 1999, EPA announced the availability of the final Project MOHAVE report. Project MOHAVE was a congressionally funded monitoring, modeling and data assessment project designed to estimate the power plant's contributions to haze at the Grand Canyon. EPA believes that the results of the Project MOHAVE study indicate that the Mohave Generating Station contributes to visibility impairment at the Grand Canyon. However, before making an official determination as to whether visibility impairment is reasonably attributable to emissions from the Mohave Generating Station, EPA will consider all available information. Through the ANPR being announced today, EPA is seeking such additional information.

Next Steps

  • The 60-day public comment period will begin when EPA publishes the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register. After reviewing the comments received in response to the ANPR, EPA will determine whether to proceed with a proposed rulemaking regarding visibility impairment at the Grand Canyon National Park being reasonably attributable to the Mohave Generating Station.

For More Information

Please contactBruce Polkowsky of the National Park Service at (303) 987-6944.

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