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Planet Ark World Environment News NY sues 2 power firms over air pollution rules

Date: 11-Jan-02
Country: USA

The suit alleges that the Dunkirk and C.R. Huntley coal-burning plants, located
in Chautauqua and Erie counties, respectively, account for a disproportionate
amount of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions released by all power
plants in the state, big factors in both acid rain and smog.

"The public rightfully expects that the Clean Air Act will be vigorously
enforced," N.Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said in a statement. "We will make
sure that power companies fully comply with the law and compensate the state for
the harm caused by acid rain and smog."

The state charges that the firms made modifications at the power plants without
upgrading air pollution controls on the smokestacks, as required by law.

The two plants were owned and operated by Niagara Mohawk, the owner of New York
State's second largest utility, until 1999, when they were sold to NRG. Last
July, Niagara Mohawk sued NRG claiming the latter is responsible for the cost of
bringing the plants into compliance with the Clean Air Act.

Niagara Mohawk spokesman Kenneth Tompkins told Reuters that the New York state
suit was expected, and noted that the problem "lies in a disputed interpretation
of the New Source Review provision," that requires pollution controls be upgraded
when undertaking major investments.

Officials at NRG Energy were not immediately available to comment on the suit.

In late November, New York state regulators approved British power utility
National Grid's planned $3 billion acquisition of Niagara Mohawk. Tompkins said
the merger was "going ahead and nearing completion," but had no comment as to
what impact the lawsuit might have.

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that U.S. federal regulators have
recommended easing air pollution regulations that environmentalists see as a
rollback of the 30-year-old Clean Air Act.

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