There's exciting news here in New Mexico this week as the Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn the permit for a proposed coal-fired power plant in the Four Corners region. If built, the Desert Rock coal plant would further pollute the air and water in the region, which already suffers from the nearby San Juan and Four Corners coal plants, and pour hundreds of millions of tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere. While not quite yet a final verdict, the EPA's decision is a major step forward in ensuring that yet another dirty coal plant is not built here in New Mexico.
Last month, Greenpeace student activists had an opportunity to hear from some of the local residents who have been fighting this coal plant for years, including Elouise Brown of the Dooda Desert Rock camp established at the site of the proposed plant. A few days later, Greenpeace activists in New York City staged a "Coal Going out of Business Sale" protest at the headquarters of Sithe Global Power, the company trying to build the coal plant. When the CEO of Sithe Global came down to try to explain why his company wants to build another dirty coal plant in New Mexico, he instead found himself on the phone with Elouise Brown speaking from her camp and explaining why building the Desert Rock plant would threaten the people who live nearby.
Perhaps now companies like Sithe Global will begin to realize that trying to push through more coal plants is a pretty unsustainable business plan. Instead of more dirty coal plants, we can build a new energy economy based on clean, free, renewable sources of power like wind and solar. New Mexico can lead the way with our abundant renewable resources, and that is the kind of development we need to create good jobs and solve the climate crisis.
This is a victory for those who have been fighting Desert Rock for years, and for the local communities and ecosystems threatened by more dirty energy. It is also an encouraging sign for the climate movement — we must stop building new coal plants now if we are to leave behind a safe climate for future generations, and this is one more step along that road.