Environmental Enforcement: New York AG Sues PA Power Plant

by | Jan 7, 2011

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman yesterday announced that he is filed a lawsuit against a major Pennsylvania electric power plant over multiple violations of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) at the facility. The plant, Homer City Station, is the largest out-of-state contributor of sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution to New York. The facility emits approximately 100,000 tons of SO2 annually – more than twice as much of this pollutant as all of the power plants operating in New York combined.

“The owners of this power plant have repeatedly thumbed their noses at clean air laws, while dumping more than double the sulfur dioxide pollution into our air and lungs as all of the power plants operating in New York combined,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) joined the New York attorney general in filing a joint enforcement action against the facility’s owners and operators. The complaint alleges that the current and former owners of Homer City Station ignored CAA requirements that state-of-the-art pollution controls be installed at the plant when it underwent several major modifications in the 1990s that increased its pollution emissions.

Homer City Station is a 1,884 megawatt electric power generating plant located in Homer City, Pennsylvania, roughly 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. The plant annually emits over 100,000 tons of SO2. Air emissions from the plant are alleged to contribute to fine particulate matter pollution in New York, and pollutants contained in the plant’s emissions are directly linked to increases in asthma attacks, lung diseases, and other health problems. SO2 is considered a primary contributor to acid rain, which has severely damaged lakes, forests, and wildlife throughout New York’s Adirondack and Catskill regions.

The complaint names both the current owner of Homer City Station – a consortium of eight limited liability companies – and its operator (EME Homer City Generation L.P.).

Also named are former owners Pennsylvania Electric Company and New York State Electric & Gas Corp., which owned the plant when, or since in was modified in the 1990s..

The New York attorney general and PADEP are jointly prosecuting the case with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which yesterday filed its lawsuit for CAA violations in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.The states have filed a motion to intervene in EPA’s case, which would ensure that the cases are litigated together before the same judge. The CAA provides that states may intervene in a case brought by EPA seeking to enforce pollution controls.

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