A bipartisan group of Arizona legislators has urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to back off of proposed rules to restrict emissions at a northern Arizona coal-fired generating plant.

Thirty-seven members of the state House, including 21 Republicans and 16 Democrats, signed the letter sent Tuesday to EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld.

The letter asks for a series of public hearings in Phoenix and rural northern Arizona during the EPA's public comment period for proposed haze rules at the Navajo Generating Station.

The plant, at Page near the Utah state line, generates electricity for the Central Arizona Project, which provides water to Phoenix, Tucson and agriculture in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties.

EPA officials have proposed upgrades to reduce air pollution from the plant, saying that the pollution causes a haze at the Grand Canyon to the south and west.

The Salt River Project, which operates the plant with coal from the Navajo Nation's Black Mesa mine, has said the upgrades would cost more than $1 billion and thus are economically unfeasible.

"The sweeping nature of the EPA’s proposed rule ... would have significant adverse impacts on Arizona families, tribes, businesses, agricultural interests and other key industries in the state through increased energy and water rates," said a press release from the state House Republican and Democratic caucuses.

"There also is enormous risk to the Arizona’s economy as thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in lost economic activity will impact the state every year," it said. "Public hearings are needed throughout the entire state to ensure a transparent process that reflects broad stakeholder engagement and input on the rule."

Read the legislators' letter here: View at Google Docs | Download File