States' Clean Air Lawsuit Against Allegheny Energy AllowedPublished by MAC on 2006-06-06
States' Clean Air Lawsuit Against Allegheny Energy Allowed
TRENTON, New Jersey, (ENS)
6th June 2006
A federal judge has denied an attempt by Allegheny Energy Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit filed last year by five states over violations of the federal Clean Air Act at three of the company's coal-fired power plants in western Pennsylvania.
The states filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Allegheny Energy Inc., based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and a number of its subsidiaries.
The suit brought by New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland alleges that Allegheny made major upgrades at its Armstrong, Hatfield's Ferry and Mitchell plants that significantly increased emissions, without installing new pollution controls required by the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.
As a result, the states allege the plants have continued to emit thousands of tons more pollution each year, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which cause smog, acid rain and respiratory disease.
On May 30, the court adopted the recommendation of a U.S. magistrate judge by rejecting Allegheny's attempt to dismiss the states' claims as time-barred or barred based on other technicalities.
New Jersey officials say the pollution blows into their state, harming the environment. The three plants at issue emit in total hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants a year. The three plants put out more nitrogen oxide emissions than all the power plants in New Jersey combined and more than three times the total amount of sulfur dioxide emissions emitted by all New Jersey power plants.
The Hatfield's Ferry plant is the fifth largest single source of sulfur dioxide emissions in the country.
"We are pleased that the court has cleared the way for us to move forward with our suit," said New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber. "We are seeking to compel Allegheny Energy to install the pollution controls mandated by the Clean Air Act so that we can eliminate thousands of tons of toxic pollutants that are blowing into New Jersey. The Hatfield's Ferry plant is among the worst coal-fired power plants in terms of its harm to public health and the environment in New Jersey."
"New Jersey will continue to vigorously pursue litigation to protect our citizens' health and meet clean air quality standards," said Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat. "This decision proves that New Jersey can and will pursue action to enforce the Clean Air Act's protections even when the federal government abdicates its own responsibility to do so."
In addition to the federal violations, the suit alleges violations of Pennsylvania's air pollution laws and regulations.
The plaintiff states are seeking to require Allegheny to reduce its harmful emissions by installing state-of-the-art pollution controls at each of the three plants. The states also asked the court to assess civil monetary penalties and order Allegheny to take additional appropriate actions to make up for the harm done to public health and the environment by its violations of federal and state law.
The subsidiaries named as defendants in the lawsuit are Allegheny Energy Service Corporation, Allegheny Energy Supply Company LLC, Monongahela Power Company, The Potomac Edison Company and West Penn Power Company.