|The generating units at the Bonanza Power Plant.|
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to let a coal-fired power plant expand has three conservation groups appealing the permit, contending the plant would release nearly two million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere annually.
The EPA issued a federal permit Aug. 30 approving the expansion of the Bonanza plant, southeast of Vernal, owned by the six-member Deseret Power Electric Cooperative. The plant generates 400 megawatts of electricity. A proposed new generating station would turn waste coal into 86 megawatts.
When setting the plant's pollution control requirements, the EPA said it did not have to consider the effect of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
The Sierra Club, the Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense objected. They cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in April that said the EPA has the authority under the federal Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
The Bonanza permit was the first issued by the EPA since that ruling.
Tim Wagner of the Utah chapter of the Sierra Club contends the EPA has dodged its public duty.
"It's as if they think that both global warming and Supreme Court decisions are debatable,'' Wagner said.