- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The San Juan Generating Station costs New Mexicans up to $60 million a year in public health costs from the asthma attacks, heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, and premature deaths that result from lack of decent air pollution controls on its smokestacks.
The EPA has ordered the owners of the plant, of whom Los Alamos is one, to install high quality pollution controls to reduce the nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%.
On March 27 the Los Alamos County Council passed a resolution supporting an alternative New Mexico-proposed state implementation plan, which would lower the nitrogen oxide emissions by only 20%, but would be much cheaper to implement. Both the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos and the League of Women Voters of New Mexico opposed this resolution.
Subsequently, several League members met with PRC Commissioner Douglas Howe, who explained that, although the federal court supported the more stringent plan, it does not make sense. We would still be left with a plant that is only 30 percent efficient, uses 9.6 billion gallons of water every year, continues to pump out tons of carbon pollution, and creates huge amounts of toxic coal ash waste that contaminate ground water – all additional costs that would continue unabated each and every year. As Howe commented, “It would be like saying we’re going to drive a 1973 Ford Fairlane that gets 8 miles to the gallon, and we’re going to continue to drive that until 2090 (when the pollution controls will be paid off).”
On July 2, PNM and the other owners were granted a 90-day administrative stay to work on a new plan. It has been suggested that retiring one or more of the coal-fired units and installing the less costly controls on the remaining units would achieve the required reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions as well as cutting carbon pollution and water use. A combination of natural gas, renewable sources, and energy efficiency can keep the utility rates down while improving New Mexico’s air, water, and public health.
The League of Women Voters of Los Alamos urges the Department of Public Utilities to work with PNM and the state to develop this economically and morally smart path forward.
Barbara Calef, President
League of Women Voters of Los Alamos