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Desert Rock Energy Project, NM

STATUS: In progress with opposition
TYPE: Coal

OPPOSITION: Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, San Juan Citizens Alliance, State of New Mexico


BACKGROUND: In 2003, the developers, including the Dine Power Authority, an enterprise of the Navajo Nation, applied for a permit to construct a 1,500 megawatt coal plant to use Navajo coal and to provide power throughout the southwestern United States. The project cost at that time was estimated at $1.5 billion.

In 2005, the Bush administration denied a request for a $1 billion loan.

In 2007, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released. In July 2008, the EPA issued the air permit for the plant. In October, the State of New Mexico among others appealed the permit to the Environmental Appeals Board claiming the facility violated the Clean Air Act and that CO2 limits were needed.  In November, the Obama-Biden Transition Team denied a $2.9 billion request to help fund carbon capture and sequestration at the site.  At that point, the project cost was estimated at approximately $4 billion.

In April 2009, EPA Region 9 asked the Board to voluntarily remand the permit for reevaluation. This was the result of an intense lobbying campaign by environmental special interest groups.  In June the developer applied for $450 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative, a federal program designed to accelerate the adoption of carbon capture and sequestration technology to capture and store CO2.   In September, the Environmental Appeals Board remanded the permit.  In December, DOE denied the grant application.

In April 2010, the project developer stated it had no intention of resubmitting the permit application to EPA.  In June, the developer allowed a $3.2 billion industrial revenue bond and tax break to expire.  In July, the Navajo Nation leader who was the project’s key champion was term-limited out of power. 

SOURCES: http://www.desertrockenergyproject.com/index.htm

LAST UPDATED:  November 29, 2010