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Louisiana Generating to Install Pollution Controls and Pay $14 Million In Penalties and Projects to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations / Marks 24th settlement under United States’ power plant enforcement initiative and largest clean air act settlement in Louisiana history
Release Date: 11/21/2012
Contact Information: Stacy Kika, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice announced today that Louisiana Generating, an electric generating company owned by NRG Energy, Inc., agreed to a settlement at its Big Cajun II coal-fired power plant in New Roads, Louisiana, which will result in the elimination of over 27,300 tons of harmful emissions per year. The settlement, lodged in federal court today in Baton Rouge, will require Louisiana Generating to spend approximately $250 million to reduce air pollution and also requires the company to pay a civil fine of $3.5 million and spend $10.5 million on environmental mitigation projects.
Louisiana Generating will achieve these reductions through a combination of new pollution controls, natural gas conversion, and annual emission caps at all three units at the Big Cajun II plant. Emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) will be reduced by approximately 20,000 tons and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by about 3,300 tons. Louisiana Generating will spend an estimated $250 million in capital costs to comply with the consent decree through the end of 2015. Louisiana Generating also has agreed to further air pollution reductions by 2025, which will reduce SO2 by at least an additional 4,000 tons each year.
The State of Louisiana joined in the settlement and will receive $1.75 million, one-half of the $3.5 million civil penalty.
“This settlement continues our important enforcement initiative to reduce harmful illegal air pollution from the largest sources of emissions,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Pollution from these sources can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and EPA is committed to making sure that they all comply with the law.”
“The Big Cajun II Power Plant is the largest source of illegal air pollution in Louisiana. This settlement will secure substantial reductions in harmful emissions from the plant which will have a beneficial impact on air quality for residents of Louisiana and downwind states, including low-income communities who have been historically overburdened with pollution,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Louisiana Generating will install modern air pollution controls that will significantly reduce harmful emissions and also will perform environmental projects that will conserve energy.”
Louisiana Generating will spend $10.5 million on environmental mitigation projects that will further reduce emissions and benefit communities adversely affected by pollution from the Big Cajun II plant as follows:
- Install solar photovoltaic panels at local schools, government-owned facilities, or buildings owned by nonprofit groups;
- Restore and protect land, watersheds, vegetation, and forests;
- Fund creation of one or more charging stations for electric vehicles in the South Louisiana area that are supplied with zero emission renewable energy sources;
- Mitigate nitrogen loading in the False River, which will have the co-benefit of reducing phosphorus loading and preventing harmful algal blooms;
- Conduct energy efficiency projects, which could include voltage optimization, residential energy efficiency, and assistance with commercial or industrial energy efficiency improvements; and
- Pay $1.5 million to the State of Louisiana to implement projects which could include the following: retrofitting vehicles with pollution controls, truck stop electrification, purchase and installation of photo-voltaic cells on buildings, building energy conservation and efficiency, buyback programs for dirty old motors, and removal or replacement of oil-fired home heaters with ultra-low sulphur oil and outdoor wood-fired boilers.
The settlement marks the federal government’s 24th settlement under its national enforcement initiative to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. SO2 and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and the environment. These pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death. SO2 and NOx are also significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. In addition, air pollution from power plants can drift significant distances downwind, thereby affecting not only local communities, but also communities in a much broader area.
The proposed settlement will be lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana is subject to a public comment period and final court approval.
More information on the settlement: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/air/cases/lagen.html