Small-town Utahns fight proposed large coal-fired power plant

If all goes according to plan, Utah will expand electrical production in the next several years by more than 2,000 megawatts. Almost all of it will come from coal-burning power plants, according to the DAQ. Three of the state’s largest plants are slated to expand: Hunter in Emery County, Bonanza in Uintah and IPP in Millard County will add 1,720 megawatts to the state’s electrical production. Sevier County’s is the only new plant planned. If these expansions are realized, more than 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide will enter the air yearly and the state’s carbon footprint will increase by thousands of tons, according to the DAQ.This spate of coal-plant proposals is part of national trend, says Ananth Chikkatur, a research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In the Rockies alone, more than 12 new coal plants are proposed. Energy companies want to get in under the wire before the George W. Bush Administration’s free-wheeling regulatory atmosphere disappears, said Chikkatur. From Killer Coal: proposed power plant in Sevier County threatens a local lifestyle and the air all of us breathe. By Jonah Owen Lamb. Salt Lake City Weekly

This is really a story about all of the rural West, not just Sevier County, whose clear skies have been targeted as wonderful places to add legal amounts of pollution from new coal-fired power plants to generate electricity for far away places.

Coal plants spew out not just sulfur, nitrogen oxides, and small particles (particulates, they also are the source of mercury pollution and they often emit more radioactivity than nuclear power plants (due to uranium ore traces in the coal that is burned). Already many stream in Utah have mercury in the trout that is above the safety limits.



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  1. Cindy Roberts Avatar
    Cindy Roberts

    Construction of new coal fired power plants in Utah is just pure insanity given mercury contamination to the waterways, global warming, carbon tax for rate payers, etc. Good ol’ American ingenunity will prevail to provide a portfolio of energy choices that do not spew heavy metals into the air and water.

  2. Dick Cumiskey Avatar
    Dick Cumiskey

    This is a classic case in which the non-resident company can pollute to their hearts content because the air we now have is close to pristine. The power is to be sold “out of state” while all of the pollution becomes our legacy. The company is not even proposing “state of the art” technology. Equipment already exists that can “gasify” the coal, thus rempoving most of the contaminants before it is burned in the boiler.Stop this profusion of “dirty plants” now while we still have some clean, healthy air.

  3. James Kennon Avatar
    James Kennon

    This is a cause that all of Utah should be concerned about. The permit process does not protect the health of the citizens. Utah uses EPA guidelines that are design to injure or kill US citizens. Utah has the laws that allow stricter protection for its citizens, but the powers to be are not willing to do so.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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