Dr. Elliot Trester, MD with Physicians for Social
Responsibility, warns against poisoning ourselves
with sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate
matter, mercury, and carbon dioxide from power plants
SIERRA CLUB, PUBLIC CITIZEN SETTLE CLEAN AIR ACT LAWSUIT AGAINST AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY
Texarkana , Texas – June 20, 2008. A settlement has been reached between environmental groups Sierra Club and Public Citizen and Ohio-based American Electric Power Company (AEP).
The consent decree signed by Federal Judge David Folsom officially ends a three-year-long court battle between the environmental groups and AEP, one of the country’s largest electric utilities, over alleged air pollution violations at the company’s Welsh coal-fired power plant in Titus County, Texas.
The lawsuit alleged thousands of federal Clean Air Act violations at AEP’s Welsh Power Plant.
Some of the alleged violations were brought to light by a disgruntled former AEP employee.
Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), AEP’s subsidiary in the region, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Ken Kramer, director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said: “The new requirements for continuous monitoring of emissions of soot from the coal-burning plant will help assure that those emissions stay within permitted levels. Compliance with permit limitations on air emissions is critical to protecting public health.”
Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office said: “Our settlement makes a down payment in the fight against global warming, by committing AEP to develop 65 additional megawatts of electricity from renewable sources in the SWEPCO service area by 2012.”
The consent decree requires AEP to:
· Install continuous electronic monitors for particulate matter on all three of the Welsh plant’s coal-fired boilers;
· Secure an additional 65 megawatts of renewable energy commitments in the SWEPCO service area;
· Spend up to $2 million in environmental mitigation projects in SWEPCO’s service area; and
· Install and maintain an ambient particulate matter monitor in the area around the Welsh plant.
Austin attorney David Frederick and the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project represented the environmental groups in the lawsuit.
In February, the US EPA issued a formal notice of violation against the Welsh plant, alleging certain Clean Air Act violations based in part on the claims made in the lawsuit by Sierra Club and Public Citizen.
The Consent Decree does not prevent EPA from continuing with its enforcement action.
The consent decree also does not settle claims that the environmental groups and others are making against AEP in Arkansas.
Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Environmental Integrity Project,
Audubon and others are challenging the proposed new AEP/SWEPCO
Turk coal-fired power plant, in Hempstead County, Arkansas.
That planned new coal plant is under fire from local landowners, hunting and fishing clubs, and environmental groups.