- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
In a series of sweeping back-to-back settlements, the Bush Administration made examples of three major companies charged with violating the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act. The Virginia Electric Power Co. agreed to spend $1.2 billion between now and 2013 to eliminate 237,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions each year from eight coal-fired electricity generating plants in Virginia and West Virginia. According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this is the largest Clean Air Act enforcement settlement with a power utility.
The settlement comes on the heels of two other agreements announced in April involving Archer Daniels Midland Co. of Decatur, Ill., the nation’s largest ethanol producer, and Alcoa, Inc. of Pittsburgh, the world’s leading aluminum producer. The total amount for the two settlements for federal pollution charges come to nearly $680 million to reduce industrial air pollution in 16 states and retrofit school buses with cleaner-burning engines. See www.epa.gov/newsroom.
The administration’s announcement of the three settlements coincided with the release of an independent study by the nonprofit National Academy of Public Administration that finds the NSR program falls short of what Congress intended. The report, commissioned by Congress, finds that while the NSR is effective in controlling air pollution from newly built facilities, it performs poorly in curbing emissions from the nation’s oldest and dirtiest factories and power plants, and “as a result, the health of the American public is being adversely affected.” See www.napawash.org.