Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | July 23, 2008

North Carolina stands up to TVA and demands a reduction in TVA’s air pollution harming its residents and Blue Ridge Mountains.

A huge environmental legal battle is raging in U.S. District Court in Asheville, North Carolina over air pollution from Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal fired utility plants.  North Carolina Attorney General sued TVA in federal court and accused the federal utility of allowing its plants to illegally spew sulfur dioxide, mercury and other chemicals far in excess of its permit limits.  The air pollution from TVA’s plants is traveling in the atmosphere across state lines and landing into North Carolina.  U.S. District Court Judge Lacy Thornburg is hearing the case without a jury.

North Carolina is asking the federal judge to order TVA to reduce the air pollution generated at its 11 coal-fired plants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.  Seven of TVA’s coal-burning, electricity-generating plants are in Tennessee. Another two are in Kentucky and two others in Alabama. TVA’s lawyers flatly deny all of the allegations and argue that TVA has already reduced pollution.

According to the suit, North Carolina claims that TVA’s air pollution is making its residents ill, increasing the state’s health care costs, and TVA’s pollution is ruining the Blue Ridge Mountains.  That last effect is costing North Carolina a huge loss in tourism dollars.  The state wants TVA to follow North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act, passed in 2002, which requires plants located in the state to cap emissions by 2013.  

One of North Carolina’s witnesses is Bruce Buckheit.  From 1996 to December, 2003, Buckheit was Director of the Air Enforcement Division for U.S. EPA.  The Air Enforcement Division is responsible for major case development and prosecution as well as policy development and national program management respecting stationary sources regulated under the Clean Air Act, such as coal-fired utility plants.   

We will be following this lawsuit as the battle over clean air wages in federal court in North Carolina.

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