The Sierra Club rattled the state's cage about one coal-fired power plant proposal near Delta and took criticism Wednesday from state lawmakers about the national group's stance on a separate coal-fired plant project near Vernal.

The Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee voted to have its chairs sign a letter that lets the federal Environmental Appeals Board know state legislators disagree with the Sierra Club on a key issue regarding the proposed expansion of a coal-fired plant 35 miles southeast of Vernal. The Sierra Club believes that carbon-dioxide emissions should be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency at the proposed expansion, to be built on Bureau of Indian Affairs land. Chairs of the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee are also expected to sign the letter.

So far, the EPA has said it won't control carbon-dioxide emissions at the proposed coal-burning unit that would be owned by South Jordan-based Deseret Power Electric Cooperatives. The state's only involvement has been to say the EPA acted "properly" during the permitting process, Utah Division of Air Quality director Cheryl Heying told lawmakers.

Also on Wednesday, the Sierra Club sent Heying a letter signed by eight "clean-air groups" asking her to deny Intermountain Power's extension request for a permit to build a third coal-fired unit that will produce 950 megawatts of power near Delta. The Sierra Club contends the state should deny the extension request because construction hasn't begun in the over three years since Intermountain Power was granted an approval order by the state in 2004. The Sierra Club took credit Wednesday for the company's project delays.

Dianne Nielsen, energy adviser for Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., said that as the EPA studies how it is going to approach CO2 emissions in the future, the Bonanza plant may have to end complying with federal emission standards.


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