Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, says he thought he "drove a stake through the heart" of the once-proposed Thousand Springs power plant and killed it.
But now its supporters are trying to resurrect a smaller version of it, so he says he's getting another stake ready.But before he uses it, he says he will study whether the smaller "Son of Thousand Springs" is a monster in his eyes, too. "We won't rule it out, out of hand," Owens said. "We'll study it."
Owens and Rep. Richard Stallings, D-Idaho, successfully led the fight last year against the plant, which was proposed in Nevada near its borders with Utah and Idaho.
Owens contended the plant would give California electricity, Nevada jobs and Utah and Idaho air pollution from its burned coal.
They pressured the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to reopen an environmental impact statement needed before 16,000 acres of federal land could be used for the project, saying the study did not evaluate the effects of pollution downwind in Utah and Idaho.
The plant died when several companies pulled out of the project because of such controversy, delays and a soft demand for more electricity.
This month, the former manager for Thousand Springs, Joe Gremban, wrote to the BLM saying Reno-based Environmental Energy Enterprises wants to resurrect the project but scale it down from 2,000 to 500 megawatts, which would reduce the number of coal-burning generating units from eight to two.
He expressed interest in continuing the environmental impact statement from where it stopped last year for the smaller version.
Scott Kearin, administrative assistant to Owens, worries continuing work on the statement might lead to efforts to build a smaller plant that might not pollute Utah much - but could lead to future expansion that would.
Owens said, "An EIS will have to be done on the ultimate size of the project before they start - we'll insist on that."
He added, "The basic problem is there isn't enough water out there to use the highest technology" wet scrubbers to remove sulfur dioxide from emissions, so resulting pollution will likely cause problems for the Wasatch Front.
Owens said, "The proposal for a smaller plant gives it a whole new opportunity for resurrection. I'm happy to study it. But if it hasn't improved dramatically, I'll get the stakes out again."