Southern Utahns Battle Nevada Coal-Fired Power Plant Proposal

Southern Utahns Battle Nevada Coal-Fired Power Plant Proposal

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- Fearing they'll get coal for Christmas this year, a group of Southern Utahns are organizing to stop a 750-megawatt coal-fired power plant being built just across the Nevada border.

The Toquop Energy Project is set for construction in Mesquite, Nev., about 40 miles southwest of St. George, Utah to meet the increasing demands for electricity in the Las Vegas area.

Some 500 Washington County residents have already signed a petition seeking to block the project, said Lin Alder, head of Citizen's for Dixie's Future. The petition will be forwarded to Utah's congressional delegation and Gov. Jon Huntsman, Alder said.

A $1.3 billion project, Toquop was originally billed as a 1,000-megawatt natural-gas-burning plant.

The plant to use gas was abandoned because of high prices and demand from competing industries, company spokesman Frank Maisano said. The company plans to ship coal from northern Wyoming for use at the plant.

Maisano said plant plans will tap the best technology to reduce pollutants that could harm the environment or affect public health.

Alder claims a draft environmental impact study is flawed and includes inadequate analysis of the diminished air quality or the impact on water quality and global warming. The report also gives short-shrift to alternate renewable-energy sources like solar or wind power, Alder said.

The project has not yet secured an air-quality permit from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

"The DEP probably won't focus on Utah despite the fact we'll pay with our health," Alder said. "So maybe we can get (Huntsman) to influence Nevada to be a good neighbor."

Maisano dismissed the petition as a public-relations document being used because opponents "don't have good arguments." He insists that technology advances will make the plant safer and cleaner than previous coal-fired projects.

"They have their opinions but their facts are wrong," he said. "This will not be like plants were 40 years ago and to say it is, is like comparing the technology in a 2007 Prius to a 1960s Chevy."


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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