EPA and DOJ Keep Moving on NSR Enforcement: $135 Million and Strictest NOx Standards Yet

The EPA and DOJ announced yesterday that Kentucky Utilities (KU), a coal-fired electric utility, has agreed to spend approximately $135 million on pollution controls to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act New Source Review program.  KU will also pay a $1.4 million civil penalty plus $3 million in implementing supplemental environmental projects, or SEPs.  Finally, KU will also surrender over 50,000 SO2 allowances shortly after entry of the consent decree, and annually surrender any excess NOx allowances resulting from the installation of pollution control equipment.   

The consent decree, which covers one of the three coal-fired electric generating units at the E.W. Brown plant in Mercer County, Kentucky, requires KU to meet the most stringent limit for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions ever imposed in a federal settlement with a coal-fired power plant.  According to the EPA’s fact sheet, the new pollution control equipment will reduced combined emissions of SO2 and NOx by more than 31,000 tons per year to just 10% of the 2007 emission levels.  KU has also agreed to install controls to reduce particulate matter emissions by approximately 1,000 tons per year.

Notably, one of the SEPs provides for KU to contribute $1.8 million towards a $7 million carbon capture and sequestration pilot project led by the University of Kentucky.

This Consent Decree is the sixteenth judicial settlement in the series of cases begun in 1999 against 32 plants in 10 states to bring the power plant industry into full compliance with the NSR and PSD requirements of the Clean Air Act.  It shows that although these cases have been around for a while, the EPA and DOJ are still focused on enforcement for NSR violations.

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