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Draft Bill Would Force Navajo Generating Station to Stay Open

Michael Friberg/ProPublica

A new draft piece of Republican legislation in Congress is designed to keep the Navajo Generating Station open. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it would exempt the coal-fired plant from federal environmental regulations.

The proposal would allow NGS not to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as a Clean Air Act program to reduce haze at the Grand Canyon.

According to a report by ProPublica, the plant burns 15 tons of coal every minute of every day, providing energy to pump Colorado River Water to Phoenix and Tucson.

Democratic State Representative Eric Descheenie says environmental concerns should be a top priority.

"These acts of desperation to try to save a dying industry is ill-conceived and really irresponsible to life—to human life. It reflects really a poor set of values in terms of how we’re executing governance," he says.

The plan, drafted by Paul Gosar, would prevent the Salt River Project, one of the plant’s owners, from decommissioning NGS ahead of its planned closure next year. In addition, it would force the Central Arizona Project to continue buying power from the plant.

An Arizona state audit last year found energy produced by NGS was significantly more expensive than energy bought on the open market.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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