By Phoenix Business Journal

The Four Corners Power Plant along with its operator Arizona Public Service Co. and owners, including Salt River Project, have been named in a lawsuit by several groups alleging the plant violates the federal clean air laws.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by Earthjustice on behalf of several Navajo groups and other environmental groups, is seeking to force measures to clean up the coal power plant to reduce emissions.

⿿Four Corners⿿ excessive pollution poses a serious threat to our community⿿s health,⿝ said Nicole Horseherder of To⿿ Nizhoni Ani, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit. ⿿Four Corners⿿ owners have two options if they are going to obey the law: Clean the plant up, or shut it down.⿝

While APS operates the plant and owns all three generating units and part of two others along with SRP, Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Tucson Electric Power and El Paso Electric. At more than 2,000 megawatts of production, it is one of the largest coal-powered plants in the U.S.

APS announced a year ago it was buying out Southern California Edisonâ¿¿s share in two of the units and closing the three oldest units, which had been considered a source of pollution in the Four Corners region, which comprises northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.

SRP spokesman Scott Harelson said the utility stands behind APSâ¿¿ statements that the plant is not violating the federal Clean Air Act. The utility has not seen the lawsuit, but two notices of claim have been filed against the plant by the same groups. A notice of claim must be filed before a lawsuit can proceed.

The lawsuit was filed within the U.S. District Court of New Mexico and alleges pollution from the plant has contributed to myriad health problems in the Four Corners region. Among the plantiffs are Toâ¿¿ Nizhoni Ani and Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The lawsuit sites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which maintains that Four Corners produced 38,000 tons of nitrogen oxide pollution, 11,000 tons of sulfur dioxide pollution and 14 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2010.

The lawsuit contends that in addition to health problems, the pollution creates issues at national parks in the four states. It also states that upgrades to what will be the plantâ¿¿s two remaining operating units actually will increase pollution.

The power plant provides an economic base on the Navajo Indian Reservation through land leases for the plant, employment and using coal produced at a nearby mine on the reservation.

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