Bonanza Power Plant addition

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

This 86 megawatt (MW) addition was to be located next to the 468 MW Bonanza Power Plant, on Bureau of Indian Affairs land. It was to be constructed by Deseret Power Electric Cooperative; construction of the plant has been contracted to the Fluor Corporation.[1] Western Resource Advocates, the Sierra Club, and Environmental Defense have appealed the state air permit, on the grounds that it did not consider CO2 emissions.


On Aug. 31, 2007, the U.S. EPA issued the final Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit for the project. This was the first such approval by the EPA since April 2007, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA has argued that that ruling gave it the authority to regulate emissions from mobile sources, such as cars, but not from stationary sources such as power plants.[2]

On Oct. 1, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, and Western Resource Advocates filed suit against the EPA, on the basis of the April Supreme Court ruling.[3] This suit will likely be an important and precedent-setting case. U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has also protested the EPA’s decision.[4]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ comments period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement closed on Oct. 9.

On November 21, 2007 the EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) granted the Sierra Club's Petition for Review.

On May 29, 2008 the Board heard the Sierra Club's case against the proposed plant. According to the Sierra Club, "During oral argument, Sierra Club attorney Joanne Spalding urged the board to overturn the air permit issued by the EPA due to the fact that it fails to require any controls for the millions of tons of carbon dioxide that this plant would emit each year; the Clean Air Act clearly states that the EPA must consider CO2 emissions in decisions such as this one."[5]

On November 13, 2008, the Board ruled in favor of the Sierra Club and said that the EPA's Denver office failed to adequately support its decision to issue a permit for the Bonanza plant without requiring controls on carbon dioxide. According to the board, this is "an issue of national scope that has implications far beyond this individual permitting process."[6] Environmentalists and lawyers representing industry groups claim the ruling will have a national effect and may stop the permitting of numerous coal plants.[7]

In January 2010, the Sierra Club reported that there had been no activity by the project's developers since the November 2008 Environmental Appeals Board ruling and that the project appeared to be abandoned.[8]

Project Details

Sponsor: Deseret Power Electric Cooperative
Location: Vernal, Uintah County, UT
Capacity: 86 MW (110 MW gross)
Type: Circulating fluidized bed (waste coal)
Projected in service:
Status: Cancelled

Citizen Groups



  1. Western Resource Advocates website, accessed January 2008.
  2. EPA, Sierra Club At Odds Over Power Plant Project, Deseret News, September 16, 2007.
  3. Three Wilds Groups Appeal Permit for New Coal-Fired Power Plant, Deseret News, October 9, 2007.
  4. California Lawmaker Chides EPA for Approving Coal Plant, Reuters, September 19, 2007.
  5. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed January 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  6. "Utah coal plant permit blocked by EPA panel",H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press, November 13, 2008.
  7. "A Freeze on New U.S. Coal Plants?", Brian Walsh, Time, November 13, 2008.
  8. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed January 2011

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