Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | March 30, 2009

Kentucky environmental lawyer Sanders says EPA launched its Clean Air Act campaign against utilities skirting law by using old grandfathered coal-fired units without installing newer pollution controls.

Did you know that in February 2009, the United States filed a complaint against Westar Energy alleging that the company violated the Clean Air Act by making major modifications to the Jeffrey Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant in St. Marys, Kansas without also installing and operating modern pollution control equipment? 

The complaint alleges that for more than a decade, the Jeffrey Energy Center has operated without the best available emissions-control technology required by the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act to control emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, contributing to formation of fine particulate matter, smog and acid rain.

The lawsuit, filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA, asks the district court to order Westar Energy to install and operate appropriate air pollution control technology in order to substantially reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions from the Jeffrey Energy Center. The United States also seeks civil penalties up to the maximum amount authorized by law, as well as actions by the energy provider to mitigate the adverse effects alleged to have been caused by the violations.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.  This is a serious step that will eventually require utilities to upgrade their pollution control equipment on older plants.  It will also require some utilities to shut down older units because it will not longer be cost effective to operate them with needed air pollution controls.

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