Battle Underway Over Proposed Power Plants in Nevada

Battle Underway Over Proposed Power Plants in Nevada

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John Hollenhorst ReportingA battle is underway in Nevada over the biggest power plant ever proposed in that state. In fact, two of them are proposed near the Utah border.

A local environmentalist says it's high time Utah residents join the battle.

It's considered unlikely that both power plants would be built. But critics say even one is an air pollution issue for Utah and a global warming issue for the planet.

The proposed location is in a broad valley just north of Ely. There are two competing proposals to build the biggest coal-fired project ever in Nevada.

John Chachas, White Pine County Commissioner: "The doors are open. We welcome them both here."

White Pine County Commissioner John Chachas says Eastern Nevada residents have had their share of booms and busts.

John Chachas, White Pine County Commissioner: "Because of the ups and downs that we've had with our economy here, they know how vital it is, the success of that plant."

But Tim Wagner of the Sierra Club says Utah residents ought to be paying attention to the project just across the state line.

Tim Wagner, Sierra Club, Utah Chapter: "Which would be directly upwind of the Salt Lake Valley, and a million and a half residents along the Wasatch Front."

He predicts large amounts of air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

Tim Wagner: "You know it's no secret that even though these plants are much cleaner than those that were built 30, 40, 50 years ago, they're still putting out hundreds of thousands of tons of sox and nox and particulate matters that come with this traditional pulverized coal technology."

Wagner says coal plants are a major factor in global warming. He urges energy efficiency and renewable sources.

Tim Wagner: "Wind and solar and geo-thermal."

Chachas says the concerns are overblown.

John Chachas: "The experts are telling us it's going to be minimal as far as pollution into the valley."

He says a small number of local residents do oppose it for aesthetic reasons, worrying that a big plant will clutter the scenery.

John Chachas: "Change is difficult. But survival is the name of the game here."

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission is in the midst of hearings on one of the proposals. It's not clear when either of the plants might get a final go-ahead.

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