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State challenges pollution control upgrades

The Arizona Corporation Commission is criticizing recent actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the state’s power plants.

The commission voted Tuesday to file an amicus brief in federal appeals court supporting the state’s challenge to pollution control upgrades at three coal-fired power plants.

The EPA partially approved Arizona’s air quality plan for the Cholla, Coronado and Apache generating stations. But the agency set its own limits for nitrogen oxide emissions and gave the plants’ operators five years to comply.

The commission says the EPA’s decision doesn’t strike the right balance of environmental stewardship and protection of Arizona’s economy.

The commission says it also will weigh in against a proposal for pollution control upgrades at the Navajo Generating Station. Public comments are due Aug. 5.

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EPA rule puts Arizona plants on track to upgrade

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had outlined a final plan for upgrades at three Arizona coal-fired power plants.

The agency on Friday followed through with a proposal to partially reject Arizona’s air quality plan. It came up with one of its own to control nitrogen oxide emissions that impair visibility at 18 national parks and wilderness areas.

Instead of low nitrogen-oxide burners, the EPA says the Cholla, Coronado and Apache generating stations must install selective catalytic reduction technology that will keep 22,700 tons of nitrogen oxide per year out of the air.

The state Department of Environmental Quality was quick to denounce the EPA’s decision, saying Arizona has a right to control pollutants within its borders. The department says visibility improvements from more than $500 million in upgrades will be imperceptible.