Bryan Cohen Jun. 27, 2013, 6:40pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday a proposed $1.995 million agreement with SunCoke Energy Inc. and two of its subsidiaries to resolve allegations of Clean Air Act violations.

The DOJ and the federal Environmental Protection Agency alleged that SunCoke Energy violated the Clean Air Act by exceeding sulfur dioxide emission limits at the Granite City, Ill.-based Gateway Energy and Coke plant, and the Franklin Furnace, Ohio-based Haverhill Coke plant.

Illinois and Ohio are co-plaintiffs in the case.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan praised the settlement for helping to reduce pollution levels in both states.

"This settlement provides a long-term solution to protect air quality and control emissions," DeWine said in a statement. "We will continue to work with other agencies to protect Ohio families from environmental harm."

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, SunCoke Energy and its affiliates would pay $1.27 million to the U.S., $575,000 to the state of Illinois and $150,000 to the state of Ohio.

The companies also would spend $255,000 on a lead abatement project in southern Illinois.

"The facility upgrades and stricter emission limits mandated in this settlement will dramatically reduce harmful pollution levels and improve overall air quality in the communities surrounding these facilities," Madigan said in a statement.

If the agreement is approved, the companies would also spend $100 million at the two facilities to install new equipment to keep pollution from being vented directly into the atmosphere, accept more stringent emission limits than required in their current permits and install equipment at a third facility in Middletown, Ohio, if future emissions exceed the requisite threshold at the facility.

Chronic exposure to sulfur dioxide can result in severe dermatitis, conjunctivitis and lesions of the digestive and respiratory system.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

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