Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | August 11, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says EPA boots TVA’s air permit decision back to KDAQ.

In an order (pdf)issued on July 13, 2009, U.S. EPA agreed with environmentalists on four of the eight challenges they brought against the PSD and Title V operating permits issued by Kentucky to TVA’s Paradise Fossil Fuel plant in Drakesboro, Ky., in November 2007. The notice of the final order was published this week in the Federal Register.

Environmentalists challenged the permit issued by the Division of Air Quality on the grounds that the permit failed to require proper pollution controls and monitoring for nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, a precursor to smog, among other legal arguments. 

U.S. EPA agreed that TVA’s permit failed to include proper analysis for the plant’s three main boilers for NOx when making upgrades to the huge plant, that the permit failed to require adequate monitoring systems for opacity and NOx, and that monitoring requirements for soot emissions from the coal washing and handling plant were insufficient to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. 

KDAQ must submit a revised permit addressing those issues to EPA by Oct. 27, 2009.  TVA can appeal the decision by seeking judicial review of the order within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register.

EPA denied relief to the Petitioners on four other claims.  Perhaps most important for the utility, TVA won the battle over whether its permit should have required year-round operation of the selective catalytic reduction system (SCR).  EPA ruled that the utility did not have use SCR all the time to control NOx emissions.  TVA also won the legal battle over MACT requirements for certain boilers.   

Finally, in a rather odd argument, EPA ruled that TVA’s permit did not have to specifically state that its permit conditions were enforceable by credible evidence.  Back peddling towards the abyss of common sense, EPA acknowledged that credible evidence was perfectly acceptable to demonstrate violations of the air permit, but the permit did not have to expressly spell out that right.

Anyone who has traveled down the Western Kentucky Parkway where it crosses the Green River and observed the huge bank of brown clouds of air pollution surrounding this humongous coal-fired generating plant knows that the name “Paradise, Kentucky” is one of the great misnomers in the English language.

Paradise has three coal-fired generating units.  Construction began in 1959 and was completed in 1970.  The winter net dependable generating capacity is 2,273 megawatts.  The plant burns 

some 20,000 tons of coal a day.



  1. From the road or the air, TVA’s plant looks like the biggest air polluter in the Commonwealth.

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