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The Joint Federal Agency Statement Regarding Navajo Generating Station

In January 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued the “Joint Federal Agency Statement Regarding Navajo Generating Station (NGS).” This three-agency joint statement was issued because of the strong federal interests in the NGS due to its unique location and the critical roles that it plays in providing power and water and supporting economic development for the state of Arizona, the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Gila River Indian Community and numerous other tribal and non-tribal water users who depend on the Central Arizona Project (CAP). The three-agency joint statement established a long-term federal working group on the NGS to help collect sound, scientifically based information on issues relating to the NGS and help the three federal agencies work with stakeholders to complete a roadmap for the long-term future of the NGS.

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History of Federal Involvement in the NGS

The NGS is a 2,250 MW coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Indian Reservation, just east of Page, Ariz. Air emissions from the NGS impact 11 national parks and wilderness areas, including the Grand Canyon. As a result of the 1968 Colorado River Basin Project Act, the federal government (through Interior's Bureau of Reclamation) has a 24.3 percent participating interest in the NGS. A number of other agencies within Interior and other federal agencies oversee other federal interests and responsibilities related to NGS. Reclamation's share of the NGS is used to provide power for the CAP, the federal water project built in the 1970s to deliver Colorado River water to agricultural water users in central Arizona and many of the state's largest municipal water users, including the cities of Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. Nearly one-half of the CAP water is allocated for use by Arizona Indian tribes.

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Stakeholder Involvement

Stakeholder involvement is an important part of all federal processes relating to NGS. Individual agencies and the working group are planning several opportunities for interested Indian tribes and other members of the public to offer their input. These opportunities include: EPA comment period, hearings, and consultation on Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) rulemaking; DOI comment period, hearings, and consultation on the NGS and Kayenta Mine Environmental Impact Statement process; and the NGS Working Group-led process (e.g. NREL Phase 2 report and roadmap).

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Summary of Phase 1 Report on the NGS by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

In January 2012 (revised and supplemented March 2012), the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a study “Navajo Generating Station and Air Visibility Regulations: Alternatives and Impacts.” The purpose of this study was to provide an independent and objective assessment of issues important to the factors EPA is required to consider under federal law in developing a BART determination for the NGS to address regional haze. A preliminary review of clean energy options for NGS, the “Navajo Generating Station and Clean-Energy Alternatives: Options for Renewables,” was published by NREL in June 2012. This study lays the groundwork for further research on clean energy alternatives for NGS.

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