Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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Court rejects environmental group’s lawsuit over haze

CARSON CITY — An environmental group that claims pollution from coal-fired plants owned by NV Energy is increasing the haze over national parks in Utah and Arizona and a wilderness area in Nevada has lost a court appeal.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected the claims of WildEarth Guardians that plans by NV Energy to reduce air pollution from the Reid Gardner Generating Station near Moapa were deficient.

The group filed suit on behalf of Colorado resident Veronica Egan, who said she visits Zion National Park in Utah and the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and that both areas have gotten hazier over the years due to an inadequate 2009 company plan to reduce sulfur dioxide being emitted at Reid Gardner.

This suit was filed before Nevada law was changed in 2013 to require NV Energy to shut down Reid Gardner. It will be fully shuttered in 2017.

The legal action said the state of Nevada should not have accepted the plan of NV Energy to reduce the sulfur dioxide emissions. It alleged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should not have approved the plans of the utility in 2012.

The court, in decision today written by Judge Milan Smith, said the claim that there was increased pollution from Reid Gardner was based on a “misinterpretation” of the available information.

NV Energy was meeting the federal standards to control haze, the court ruled.

The court also rejected a claim that a coal-fired plant in Valmy was contributing increased haze to the Jarbridge Wilderness area in remote northeastern Nevada. It said Egan never visited that area to observe the air conditions.

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