Environmentalists upset with PNM's coal emission plan

Dozens protest, speak before Public Regulatory Commission

Published  7:13 PM MST Jan 05, 2015

The company wants to shut down two units that are part of the San Juan generating station, near Farmington New Mexico. PNM says it plans to help the environment, but some feel it’s not enough.

“It's time for us to recognize that coal and nuclear are false solutions,” said Beata Tsosie Pena, a protester. “We need to move to clean energy as soon as possible.”

She was one of dozens lined up to speak before the Public Regulatory Commission. Protesters hoisted signs in the air, each one with a different "clean energy" catch phrase.

Pena said she's standing up for her neighbors on the Navajo Nation.

“Our brothers and sisters from the nation have been suffering as well from uranium mining and coal production,” Pena said.

It's the first day of a public hearing discussing PNM’s plan to cut emissions from its San Juan Generating Station. The power plant uses coal.

PNM’s submitted proposal to the commission, includes shutting down two of the four generating units. The company said that would reduce how much coal it uses, and increase other, cleaner sources of energy.

But people like Kathy Wanpovi Sanchez said PNM isn't doing it for the environment.

“It's not the elements that are so dangerous, it's the people and how they profit,” Sanchez said.

With her son in her arms, Pena said this discussion is about what the air in the Four Corners will be like for her children and grandchildren.

“I always think of them when I turn on the lights in my home,” Pena said.

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A PNM spokesman said the plan would cut coal emissions by 30 percent in the Four Corners area.

"At the end of the day, we are optimistic the plan will be approved, meaning that ultimately PNM customers will be the winners," the company said.

The PRC will now spend the next two to three weeks listening to community members and PNM representatives.

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