FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Republican politicians expressed disappointment in the federal government's proposal Friday to require pollution control upgrades at a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation, saying it could drive up costs for energy and water to residents.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that the Navajo Generating Station in Page reduce haze-causing nitrogen oxide emissions to help clear the air at the Grand Canyon and other national parks and wilderness areas.
The plant's owners said it will be costly, up to $1.1 billion, and may be economically unfeasible if they cannot first secure an extension of the site lease and other agreements.
"This remains the least sustainable solution for the environment and the cost of doing business in Arizona," Gov. Jan Brewer said. "The costs of these controls will be passed to the ratepayers of Arizona and without a commensurate improvement in visibility. The EPA's actions amount to a hidden tax Arizonans will be paying for years to come."
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake said the EPA proposal "is sure to raise water and power rates for tribal and non-tribal communities throughout Arizona, undermining three decades worth of bipartisan water policy and numerous water-settlement agreements."
That same sentiment was echoed by U.S. Reps. Matt Salmon and Paul Gosar, while U.S. Sen. John McCain said the upgrade plan for the plant "makes little economic or environmental sense."
The Navajo Generating Station powers the Central Arizona Project, which delivers Colorado River water through a series of canals to much of Arizona's population. It also provides $48 million in revenue to the Navajo Nation each year through tax and lease payments. The Hopi Tribe depends on the associated coal mine for a majority of its budget.
Other American Indian tribes receive water through the canal system as part of settlements with the federal government.