Skip to main content

Kaiparowits Power Plant

In the early 1970s there was proposed a gigantic coal mine and what would have been the world's largest power plant: a six-unit, 5,000-megawatt facility on the Kaiparowits Plateau in southern Utah, to serve customers mainly in California. It would have despoiled the land in this wild and spectacular place adjacent to the Lake Powell National Recreation Area and sullied the skies for many miles around.

There was little law to abate the inevitable damage to land, water, and air.

An Earthjustice attorney in Denver, representing opponents of the project in the region, teamed with attorneys at the Center for Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles to advance novel legal theories to control or eliminate the damage -- including reviving the ancient common-law tort of nuisance.

They also argued the proposition that the California Public Utilities Commission approve out-of-state projects built by California utilities because California consumers would ultimately pay for them. Earthjustice and the Center persuaded the PUC to review the Kaiparowits proposal and require the utilities to apply for what's called a "Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity." Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Company dropped the plant.

The Kaiparowits Plateau was protected as part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the late 1990s.