PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne on Thursday filed a petition for review with a federal appeals court over the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to require three coal-fired power plants in the state to upgrade pollution controls.
In a news release, Horne said the EPA is attempting to force state utilities to spend up to $1 billion for "supposed pollution control measures" that would not affect health or be visible to the human eye.
"This is an absurd action that would significantly raise utility rates for most Arizonans without providing any benefit to anyone," he said in a statement.
The attorney general, on behalf of the state Department of Environmental Quality, filed the two-page petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the EPA's plan to impose new haze restrictions.
Such measures could require the installation of "prohibitively expensive" Selective Catalytic Reduction technology at the Apache, Cholla and Coronado power plants, Horne said.
"This attempt by the EPA has nothing to do with ensuring clean air and everything to do with trying to eliminate coal as a source of electricity," the attorney general said. "The terrible irony of this is that the supposed improvement in visibility the EPA wants to achieve is not even visible to the human eye.
"These plants are being told to reduce haze that cannot even be seen and has no effect on a person's health. That is ludicrous, and it causes a tremendous hardship to every Arizonan who uses electricity or drinks water; in other words, everyone."
Horne contends that if the EPA is successful in implementing its plan "not one bit of regional haze will be diminished."
He also argues that the Navajo Generating Station, which is not part of this specific action, but produces electricity to deliver Central Arizona Project Water, would likely also be threatened in the future, forcing the CAP to buy electricity on the open market.
"If that was to happen, CAP energy rates would be driven up at least 20 percent," the attorney general said. "Those added electricity and water costs are passed on to consumers in Phoenix and Tucson who rely on the CAP for drinking water."
He added, "The federal government appears bent on causing serious economic damage to the average consumer in the name of environmental protection when the environmental benefits it wishes to confer simply do not exist. I will do all I can to stop this bureaucratic overreach."
Horne's petition asks the Ninth Circuit to overturn the EPA plan.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.