Four Corners and San Juan Generating Stations

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Four Corners and San Juan Generating Stations

Date: 01/26/2022     State: NM     Issues: Climate, Coal, Mining, Oil and Gas, Renewable Energy     Partners: San Juan Citizens Alliance, Tó Nizhóní Áni, Western Environmental Law Center Airport Origin : Farmington, NM    


Fly the San Juan Citizens Alliance, Tó Nizhóní Áni, and Western Environmental Law Center over the Four Corners region to examine the San Juan and Four Corners Generating Stations, and orphaned wells. Our partners are working with the BLM to identify the location of abandoned wells so reclamation can begin.

The Four Corners Region near the San Juan River is strewn with oil & gas development and home to two of the largest and historically the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the United States: the Four Corners Power Plant and the San Juan Generating Station. Dangerous contaminants from thousands of coal bed methane wells, and the disposal of tens of millions of tons of coal-combustion waste ridden with mercury, selenium and other deadly toxins pollute the San Juan River. As a tributary to the Colorado River, the San Juan River supplies drinking water to tens of millions of people - from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico to Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico.

As our nation transitions from coal to clean energy, the San Juan and Four Corner Generating Stations are scheduled to close. The Biden administration has also committed dollars to reclaiming orphan wells, still emitting methane and other toxins in the Four Corners area. San Juan Citizens Alliance will work with the community and the Bureau of Land Management to identify orphan wells in the Four Corners Region. Some abandoned wells will be plugged to restore the landscape's natural contour and ensure remaining toxins don't further contaminate the region's land and air.

Beginning in fall 2023, the Four Corners Power Plant will only operate seasonally and will fully close by 2031. The reduced operations will cut emissions by around 20%. The City of Farmington and San Juan County have pushed to keep the San Juan Generating Station open under the company Enchant Energy, and begin utilizing carbon capture technology. Implementing this small environmental initiative would do little to mitigate the plant's harmful emissions. However, the San Juan Generating Station is scheduled to shut down operations in June 2022. The plant provides jobs and strengthens the local economy, but these benefits come at a high cost. The station is New Mexico's largest polluter and is a massive health threat to workers and local communities. The generating station's closure will greatly reduce toxic emissions, smog, and soil and groundwater contamination. The region will experience immediate health and environmental benefits after the plant's closure, but many jobs will be lost. Our partners will work to ensure a just and equitable economic transition for the region and the plant workers, the majority of whom are Native American.

San Juan Citizens Alliance is advocating for the transition from a coal-based economy to local opportunities in the renewable energy sector. Some of the pre-disturbed land in Four Corners has high solar power potential. This region is a viable location for solar farms - a solar project at the San Juan Generating Station has already been proposed. Some of the existing generating station infrastructure and power lines may be utilized for the development. Solar could replace the dirty power plants, providing the community with an environmentally friendly and economically stable industry.

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