A drafty document: Desert Rock study draws weighty criticism

Endangered fish are not the only things unaccounted for in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ environmental analysis of the Desert Rock Power Plant. The Environmental Protection Agency recently raised several “unresolved concerns” about the analysis and a redraft could be coming.

In an Aug. 24 letter, the EPA’s Environmental Review Office highlighted problems with the BIA’s review of Desert Rock. The bureau released its draft environmental impact statement in late May and cited few negative

impacts and recommended approval of the coal-fired power plant.

However, the EPA still has several hard questions for the BIA. The agency commented that the document failed to analyze impacts from coal combustion waste from the Navajo Mine as well as pollution impacts from construction and vehicles associated with the plant. The EPA also noted that Desert Rock claims it will use groundwater for the plant, yet there have been studies of impacts on


“There’s every reason in the world for this EIS to be redrafted,” said Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance New Mexico coordinator. “There’s insufficient data on endangered species, coal combustion wastes, hydrologic impacts, and they failed to quantify CO2 emissions. It’s a completely inferior document and needs to be rewritten.”

– Will Sands