Moapa Paiutes & Allies Take Dirty Coal-fired Power Plant to Federal Court

Neighboring tribe claims illnesses from coal pollution for decades


Suma Peesapati, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2085


William Anderson, Chairman, Moapa Band of Paiutes, (702) 865-2787

The Moapa Band of Paiutes and environmental allies filed suit in federal court over the issue of air pollutants from the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant located just a couple hundred yards from the homes of Moapa Paiute families.

The Reid Gardner Power Plant is seen towering above houses on the Moapa River Reservation home of the Moapa Band of Paiutes.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)
See a video and photos of Moapa Paiutes and Reid Garner.

William Anderson, Chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, had these comments: “What do you do when you’ve seen so many of your friends and neighbors get sick from the coal plant soot and chemicals and ash waste for so many years? We’ve advocated, we’ve gone to regulators, we’re building commercial scale solar, but still the coal pollution and illness are here. We’ve seen coal at Reid Gardner become too costly to make economic sense, but still NV Energy doesn’t retire a plant that’s almost 50 years old now. Somewhere there has to be some justice. Somewhere there has to be some rational leadership from NV Energy and state utility regulators.”

The lawsuit is being filed in 9th Circuit Court by Earthjustice on behalf of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, Sierra Club, and National Parks Conservation Association. It appeals an EPA decision earlier this year that allowed ongoing high rates of nitrogen oxide pollution at Reid Gardner rather than requiring upgrades to the best available controls—called selective catalytic reduction—that can reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by 90 percent and are now in use on more than 200 coal plants around the country. Nitrogen oxides harm the respiratory system and form ground-level ozone and the fine particulate pollution that can cause heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks, and lung cancer.

Grand Canyon National Park.  (NPS)
Above: A clear day, with visual range of 390 km.
Below: A hazy day, with visual range of 40 km.

The Moapa Paiutes and their environmental allies have maintained that retirement and transition to cleaner sources is the wise path for Reid Gardner given its old age and high costs. However, until that day comes the groups say the plant has to be required to update with the best air pollution equipment available—not the inferior measures currently required by EPA—given the heavy impact the plant’s pollution has on the health of Moapa Paiute families and on smog haze at nearby national parks such as Zion and Grand Canyon.

Senator Harry Reid has called for retirement of the Reid Gardner coal plant; an economic report has found that retiring Reid Gardner in a transition to increased energy efficiency would save ratepayers $59 million over prolonging the plant’s operations; and an expert study has revealed significant problems with another coal pollutant at the facility, sulfur dioxide.

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