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Karen McKinnon

One big water polluter in the West is coal plants, which add dangerous mercury to streams and lakes. This mercury then gets concentrated in fish and other waterfowl, resulting in 47 of the 50 states having mercury advisories. In New Mexico, as of 2005, 26 different lakes equaling 29,519 acres and 93 miles of rivers were under mercury advisories.

There has never been a more important time to stand up against the development of more dirty coal. New coal plants that are built will operate for approximately 50-60 years, adding carbon dioxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other small particulates to the air we breathe. In addition, coal plants use massive amounts of water - an average 1,500 MW plant uses 10 million gallons per day - that the arid West simply cannot afford to lose. New technologies have eliminated the need for new coal plants, and it is possible to meet the energy needs of the West through energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and, if absolutely necessary, new coal technologies like IGCC with carbon capture.

Stand up and show the utilities that you do not want or need a new coal fired power plant.

Here are five things you can do:

1. Submit comments to the BIA and tell the agency what you think about proposed Desert Rock coal-fired power plant (Must arrive by August 20th).
2. Encourage your friends, neighbors and family to write a letter too.
3. Attend a public hearing and bring two people with you. The more people that attend the meeting the stronger the message will be to the BIA that New Mexicans don¢t want Sithe's dirty coal plant.
4. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, a blog, or a list-serve expressing your concern about the proposed Desert Rock coal plant.
5. Demand national legislation that would move the entire country away from coal.

Check out http://www.sanjuancitizens.org/air/desertrock.shtml to get the schedule for the public hearings and find out more information about Desert Rock. Protect the air we breathe and the earth we depend on by making your voice heard!

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