Environmental groups and Native Americans living on a New Mexico reservation have sued the owners of the Four Corners Power Plant alleging that the plant owners and operators have been violating the Clean Air Act’s (CAA’s) permitting requirements for years. Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Env’t v. Ariz. Pub. Serv. Co., No. 11-00889 (D.N.M. filed 10/4/11). The complaint alleges that the power plant has emitted significant amounts of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and mercury thereby exposing nearby residents, causing respiratory problems and creating smog in protected areas such as the Grand Canyon.
The emissions have allegedly been worsened by two large-scale modifications to the plant—one to replace coal pulverizers in 1985, and one to replace boilers and turbines that began in 2007 and is still ongoing. The complaint alleges that the plant made these major modifications without obtaining prevention of significant deterioration permits under the CAA. The lawsuit asks the court to (i) enjoin the defendants from operating the plant until they apply for proper permits and (ii) order them to remedy the plant’s alleged CAA violations by installing pollution controls and conducting audits of the plant’s operations.