Cleaning Up the Four Corners Coal-Fired Power Plant

Earthjustice is working to clean up a major coal-fired power polluter on Navajo land that has neglected to install pollution control measures, despite numerous modifications at the plant that legally require the plant’s operator to do so.


Regional Office / Program

Case Overview

Four Corners is a very large source of pollution. Every year, the massive coal plant burns millions of tons of coal and discharges into the air of the Colorado Plateau large amounts of air pollutants that have been found to contribute to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease.

The federal Clean Air Act requires power plant operators who construct or modify a major air pollution source, such as large coal-fired power plants, to install modern pollution controls. The pollution controls must comply with a federal standard called Best Achievable Control Technology (“BACT”). The Four Corners power plant has been modified numerous times since 1985 but has never installed the legally-required pollution control technology.

Earthjustice and the Sierra Club are involved in an ongoing litigation campaign to fight pollution from the Four Corners Power Plant and promote a clean energy future for the Navajo Nation. In collaboration with indigenous environmental justice groups and conservation groups, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club are working to achieve a just transition away from coal-fired generation to investment in renewable energy opportunities. Units 1-3 are now retired, while units 4 and 5 are still running. Earthjustice and its partners are currently in settlement talks.

The Four Corners Power Plant, in May of 1972.
The Four Corners Power Plant, in a photo from 1972. The plant burns coal to produce electricity using outdated and ineffective pollution control technology. (Terry Eiler / Environmental Protection Agency)

Case Updates

Shiprock is a sacred site in the Navajo Nation located near the Four Corners Power Plant
July 22, 2015 Article

Cleaner Air Coming to the Skies Above Four Corners Power Plant

The owners of the Four Corners power plant in New Mexico have reached an agreement to reduce pollution and improve the health of surrounding communities and national parks.

The Four Corners coal-fired power plant in New Mexico.
June 24, 2015 Press Release: Victory

Legal Agreement Reached to Reduce Power Plant Pollution Damaging Southwest’s National Parks, Navajo People

Consent Decree will Cut Emissions from New Mexico’s Four Corners Plant

December 31, 2013 Article

Clearing the Air in the Southwest with State, Federal Rules

Arizona Public Service Company officially announced yesterday that it will retire Units 1, 2, and 3 of the Four Corners Power Plant by January 1, 2014 and install long-overdue pollution controls on the plant’s remaining two units by July 31, 2018. Built before the Clean Air Act was enacted, this coal plant has been operating without modern pollution controls for the past fifty years. Uncontrolled pollution from this plant threatens the health of its Navajo neighbors and mars visibility in…