MAC: Mines and Communities

Study Finds Top Air Polluters Closely Tied to Bush Administration

Published by MAC on 2004-05-17

One of the themes this website has regularly pursued has been the Bush regime's mounting assault on enviornemntal legislation (specifically the Clean Air and Water acts, but also the ban on mountaintop mining and tailings dumping in rivers, not to mention the refusal to endorse even the minimal provisons of the Kyoto Treaty).

Now two US groups have linked the funding of Bush's backers directly with not only lobbying by the country's worst corporate offenders but direct funding of the electoral campaign and the Republican party.

Also below, the Environmental News Service announces that three states are to sue one of these power companies for violations of the Clean Air act after the Bush-controlled EPA refused to enforce the law.

Study Finds Top Air Polluters Closely Tied to Bush Administration

The full report is available at

Press release from,

May 17 2004

The nation's top 50 polluting power plants are owned by corporations that are tightly allied with the Bush Administration both as major campaign contributors and in conducting pollution policymaking, according to a new study released yesterday. Conducted by two nonprofit, nonpartisan groups-the Environmental Integrity Project and Public Citizen-the study utilized data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

Ranking the polluters based on their emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, the report finds that sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide pollution actually increased from 2002-2003, thereby expanding risks of asthma attacks and lung ailments.

According to the report, America's Dirtiest Power Plants: Plugged into the Bush Administration, the firms cited in the study, along with their trade associations, met at least 17 times with Vice President Cheney's energy task force.

The report found that since 1999, the 30 largest utility companies owning the majority of the 89 dirtiest power plants in the study have contributed $6.6 million to the Bush presidential campaigns and the Republican National Committee. The 30 companies also hired at least 16 lobbying or law firms that have raised at least $3.4 million more for the Bush campaigns.

"It is no coincidence that a wholesale assault on the Clean Air Act is taking place today," said Eric Schaeffer, who founded EIP after resigning in early 2002 from his post as director of EPA's Office of Regulatory Enforcement, in protest of the administration's rollback of environmental protections. "This is a well-connected industry that is absolutely intent on preserving its 'right' to foul the air regardless of the consequences to the American people."

The study ranked the top 50 polluters for each of the three emissions (mercury, SO2, CO2). Because several companie! s were i n the top 50 for more than one pollutant, the list totaled 89 power plants. Of those 89, some 47 have either been sued or placed under investigation by the EPA for violating the Clean Air Act's New Source Review requirement, under which plants that upgrade or expand must add expensive new clean technology.

Last August the EPA stirred a huge controversy by relaxing requirements for New Source Review, exempting many plants from the law's pollution control requirements. A federal court stayed the new rules, but as the report notes, "The result of the administration's policy, coupled with the program's current status in legal limbo, is that many of these companies have either had the cases against them undermined or simply dropped by the Bush Adminstration."

The study lists five former executives or lobbyists for the electric utility industry who have been placed in important regulatory posts in the Bush administration. One is assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, another is counsel to that office, and a third is deputy administrator of EPA. A fourth is now in charge of all government lawsuits against coal-fired power plants, and the fifth helped write national energy policy as assistant secretary at the Department of Energy.

States Pursue Allegheny Coal Plant Case Abandoned by EPA

Environmental News Service (ENS)

May 21, 2004

Albany, New York - New York and three other states will sue the owner of five coal fired power plants in West Virginia for violating the Clean Air Act over more than a decade, after the federal government dropped its investigation of the power plants late last year.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced Thursday that Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have joined New York in sending a Notice of Intent to Sue letter to Allegheny Energy, Inc. based in Greensburgh, Pennsylvania.

Allegheny Energy Inc. is the fifth largest emitter of sulfur dioxide and the tenth largest emitter of nitrogen oxide in the nation.

The notice identifies Clean Air Act violations at five power plants in West Virginia owned and operated by the company. It serves as notice of the violations upon which a lawsuit under the Clean Air Act might be based if a resolution of the matter is not reached.

An investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that the Allegheny coal plants made major improvements without installing the air pollution controls required under the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.

As a result, the plants have continued to emit hundreds of thousands of tons more pollution each year that blow across state lines into the four states pursuing the lawsuit. The sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions cause smog, acid rain, respiratory disease among other problems, the letter states.

After the federal government announced that the EPA was dropping some 50 air pollution enforcement investigations, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer obtained the comprehensive files on these power plants. Thursday's action by the states "ensures that years of investigatory work to advance environmental enforcement will be used to protect public health and the environment," Spitzer's office said in a statement.

Spitzer said, "Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is a serious threat to New York's environment and public health. It is disturbing that the federal government is no longer enforcing the Clean Air Act, and is in fact taking steps to sharply weaken it. New York and its partners will act if the federal government is unwilling to do so."

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, "This company must be held accountable - just as we have done with other polluters - for stopping the steady stream of poison it spews daily into the air we breathe."

"States like Connecticut must act aggressively to stop air contamination because of appalling, astonishing inaction by federal agencies," Blumenthal said. "This issue is a matter of life and death."

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey said, "Faced with federal regulators at the EPA who have abdicated their responsibility to enforce the Clean Air Act, we will join with these other states to ensure that corporate polluters are not permitted to defy the law and profit at the expense of our environment and the health of our citizens."

The letter of notice also identifies unpermitted modifications at three power plants in Pennsylvania, but the states have deferred joint action on those power plants since Pennsylvania has initiated its own investigation and is in discussions with Allegheny Energy regarding those violations.

Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty said, "Although Pennsylvania has acted independently by initiating its own investigation and discussions with Allegheny Energy regarding the three in-state plants, joining this broader suit emphasizes the importance of regional partnerships in achieving air quality improvements and ensuring fairness.

"Pennsylvania and others in the Northeast all too often are put at a competitive disadvantage by shouldering the burden of increased emissions from upwind states," she said.


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