EPA approves Utah pollution controls at power plants

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. environmental officials approved a plan by the state of Utah for new pollution controls on coal-fired power plants aimed at reducing haze near two of the state's famous national parks, though environmentalists say it doesn't go far enough.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision, announced Wednesday, applies to an emissions reduction plan for PacificCorp's Hunter and Huntington power plants in Emery County. The EPA said the plan calls for providing credits for nitrogen oxide emissions control systems at the plants in eastern Utah.

The EPA also said it was formally withdrawing a mitigation plan for the two plants it had submitted under the Obama administration in 2016.

In 2017, a federal appeals court granted a request by the Trump administration to halt the plan. Environmental and clean air groups argued the move rejected EPA’s own research that showed the plan would have cut down haze near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and other wilderness areas.

“We appreciate the efforts of EPA to act on Utah’s plan and the many stakeholders who participated in the development of the plan." Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Air Quality, said in a statement Wednesday.

Conservationists, though, said the new plan would have “no effect on cleaning up the state’s air." The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah said the new plan doesn't do enough to curb the emissions from the coal-fired power plants.

“We cannot afford a rear-view mirror approach that puts a dying coal industry ahead of a vibrant outdoor recreation economy that Utah has built,” said Dr. Scott Williams, the group's executive director, in a statement.

Hunter began operating in 1978 and Huntington in 1974.