Last year, I shared the sad and pathetic story of NV Energy, owners of a Nevada coal plant that’s polluting and sickening the nearby Paiute Native Americans, and the company’s crude attempts to manipulate local media into thinking that the pollution is no big deal.
Well, it seems that in the interim, the story has gotten sadder and even more pathetic.
NV Energy is required by law to monitor and report the particulate pollution that comes from its Reid Gardner coal plant, to ensure that it doesn’t exceed legal limits. The Paiutes who live nearby have been getting sick and dying at suspicious rates for years, so naturally they were curious about those reports. They filed an open records request.
Guess what they found?
Turns out, NV Energy has been falsifying those reports since at least 2006. And not in some clever, Bond-villain way, but more in a ham-handed, Austin Powers-villain way. Which is to say: Particulate data was just cut and pasted from previous reports, year after year. Here’s an example from an analysis the Paiutes had done:
See the numbers highlighted in dark pink? What a coincidence!
Also, from the Paiutes’ press release:
The Moapa Paiutes have also uncovered evidence that NV Energy has routinely and significantly exceeded its “heat input” permit limits at Reid Gardner, producing more air pollution as a result (pollution emissions from coal boilers are proportionate to heat input rates). For example, in 2010, the utility ran unit three at Reid Gardner in violation of the heat input limits for more than 2,100 hours, approximately a quarter of the year.
Anyway, it gets worse. It turns out that the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) learned about this last year. And what did they do?
They let NV Energy off with a warning. No penalty, no fine. They wrote it off as “human error.”
Now, I think we can agree that it was a human who copied previous years’ data and pasted it in as new data. But is that an “error”? Kinda hard to see how it would be. Seems almost like, oh, lying and law-breaking to me.
And the coup de grace: NDEP did not see fit to tell the nearby Paiutes that the particulate data had been falsified and that, as it happens, no one has any idea how much pollution was dumped on them from 2006 to 2011.
Inspiring all around, huh?
So now the Paiutes are filing a lawsuit against NV Energy. You can read their 60-day notice of intent to sue here [PDF]; all the gory details are in the Appendices.
I don’t know what the court will decide. But economic analysis shows that shutting down the Reid Gardner coal plant would benefit Nevada ratepayers. I’m just saying.
Get Grist in your inbox