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Coalition Formed to Combat Proposed EPA Regulations

A group of Arizona business leaders and politicians announced that they have created a coalition to address proposed regulations on the Navajo Generating Station.

The Arizona Coalition for Water, Energy and Jobs said in a press conference on Tuesday that regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if implemented, will have an adverse effect on the Arizona economy by “significantly increasing water prices.”

The proposed regulations, which are a part of the EPA’s “regional haze program,” would require the generating station to install pollution control technology, intended to reduce haze and increase visibility over the Grand Canyon.

“This (the regulations) will not improve enjoyment of the Grand Canyon, but will increase the cost of business,” Sid Wilson, chairman of the coalition said.

Wilson, who came out of a four-year retirement from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District to chair the coalition, said during the conference that implementing the necessary emissions control technology, which are proposed to be complied with by Aug. 6, “could cost up to $1 billion.”

“At risk are 3,400 jobs each year,” said Karrin Taylor, board chair of Valley Partnership.

“If these jobs disappear, they would be very difficult to replace,” said Kelly Norton, president of the Arizona Mining Association, noting that an increase in water prices would have a “cascading effect on the economy.”

Taylor also said that the regulations would stagnate business development in Arizona.

“One of the most important considerations for developing businesses is power and water rates,” she said.  “If we double or triple the cost of water, we immediately remove an important attribute of business development.”

She said that Arizona has “always had a competitive advantage” due to its ability to offer low rates on water and power, and noted “the Navajo Generating Station is at the heart of that system.”

“We can’t put at risk such an important economic tool for a rule that will deliver no benefit,” she said.

House Speaker Andy Tobin said during the conference that the coalition is rallying both locally and in Washington for support on the issue.

“I am asking the President of the United States to protect Arizona from these regulations,” he said.

David Martin, president of the Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, said during the conference that the proposed regulations would produce results “similar to what happened at the Mohave Power Station,” which was forced to be shut down in 2005 after facing similar government intervention.

“We are not going to let special interests force us into the same corner,” he said.

Coalition members also said that the benefits of the regulations, which they cite as being based on “flawed technical analysis,” do not exceed the costs.

“The EPA has yet to thoughtfully approach the cost/benefit analysis required under law,” Martin said.  “If the costs of this rule exceed the benefits, and they clearly do, there would be no required retrofit.”