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2 Emery County coal plants could face new air quality regulations

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The EPA held a public meeting in Salt Lake City Tuesday to discuss possible new air quality regulations.

The regulations would affect Rocky Mountain Power’s Hunter and Huntington coal plants in Emery County.

"Some of the most beautiful places in Utah, we can't see our gorgeous views as well as we once could because unfortunately a range of human activity," said Matt Pacenza, of HEAL Utah.

According to the EPA, pollution from the plants’ smokestacks are responsible for 40 percent of all nitrogen oxide emissions from the state’s electric sector. The new regulations would reduce that haze by 76 percent.

"It seems the world knows two different Utahs: the most beautiful place and then the Utah that is known for its outdated energy portfolio, dirty air, it's exploitation of natural resources," said Caroline Gleich, a clean air activist.

However, a bus load of people from the coal mining industry also attended the public meeting to voice their opposition to the new regulations.

"Nobody is against clean air, but I feel like Rocky Mountain Power has implemented and gone beyond trying to clean up the air," said Sandy Burr, whose husband and son are both coal miners. "We have clean air down there that's why we choose to live there."

Burr believes these regulations will also jeopardize hundreds of jobs.

"Price, Emery; all of those places would just become a ghost town and it would just trickle down to the businesses, to the financial institutions that have loans for these coal miners, for homes, for vehicles, they would lose everything," Burr said.

The public comment period goes until March 14. The EPA is expected to make a decision by June 1.

8 comments

  • KellyEAndrews

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  • William Frisbie

    The decision has already been made. It will just be announced in June. I moved to Emery County in May of 1975 when there was 1 unit at Huntington Plant and 1 unit at Hunter Plant. There are now 2 units at Huntington and 3 units at Hunter. The air doesn’t look a bit different than it did 40 years ago.

  • Bob

    Everybody realizes that the video FOX13 used for this story show an oil refinery stack burning off waste right? Its not from a Power Plant at all, the video of Huntington Power Plant shows “steam” its not smoke!
    Since 2007 Rocky Mountain Power has taken these steps to reduce regional haze.
    • In 2007, installed low NOX burners, a sulfur dioxide scrubber, and a baghouse on Huntington Unit 2.
    • In 2008, installed low NOX burners on Hunter Unit 3
    • In 2011, installed low NOX burners, sulfur dioxide scrubber upgrades, and a baghouse on Huntington Unit 1.
    • In 2012, installed low NOX burners, scrubber upgrades, and a baghouse on Hunter Unit 2.
    • In 2014, installed low NOX burners, scrubber upgrades, and a baghouse on Hunter Unit 1.
    • And in 2015, closed the Carbon plant and removed it from service.

  • Breann Cowley

    As I watched the news last night, and listened to a new proposed goal for clean air, I do recall hearing that Utah has not even accomplished the goal they were to do a few years previous!!! So now that utahs been called out for not following through, they want to make a huge drastic county crippling desicion to shut our power plants down!!! When from facts I’ve seen ( • In 2007, installed low NOX burners, a sulfur dioxide scrubber, and a baghouse on Huntington Unit 2.
    • In 2008, installed low NOX burners on Hunter Unit 3
    • In 2011, installed low NOX burners, sulfur dioxide scrubber upgrades, and a baghouse on Huntington Unit 1.
    • In 2012, installed low NOX burners, scrubber upgrades, and a baghouse on Hunter Unit 2.
    • In 2014, installed low NOX burners, scrubber upgrades, and a baghouse on Hunter Unit 1.
    • And in 2015, closed the Carbon plant and removed it from service.) show that the power plants have tried to eliminate as much as possible the pollutants!! do not think you can take away our simple way of life to accommodate and maybe continue to ruin your hectic busy way of life that is contributing to the air quality!!! Because all I see is a beautiful view every morning with my 2 power plants, and the city folks see smog and blame us???? Grow up and take responsibility !!!!!!

  • Cindy

    Regarding your piece on the Hunter and Huntington power plants in Emery County. It would have been much more telling if you would have used actual photos from the Hunter and Huntington area. If you actually sent a crew to film the same story, it would have been much different. We have clean air and clear skies every day. Before the Carbon power plant in Helper closed last year, we had 4 coal-fired plants within a 40-mile radius. You wouldn’t ever know it if you were to drive through Carbon County on Hiway 6. Our air is far better than Salt Lake City on it’s BEST day! My husband used to work for Utah Power as an engineer. He and a couple of his co-workers flew the “haze line” in a small plane a few years ago. The haze, or pollution, that is visible on the southeastern skyline in the mornings is from Los Angeles, not from our local power plants. If you want to air real news, bring your cameras to the source instead of interviewing people who don’t live in our area and probably have never been here. It gets really old having people from elsewhere in the country telling us how to live and work.

  • Kirkwood

    What you are seeing coming out the stacks is water vapor. The gases are hot and condense into water as it leaves the stack. In the winter you can really see the vapor, in the summer when it is hot you can barely see it. The vapor is no different than what comes off of the cooling towers. The actual pollutants are not visible, except for the particulates, most of the time there is not enough to see.

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