Historic settlement provides states with $24 million

John O'Brien Apr. 8, 2008, 3:15pm



COLUMBUS, Ohio - The figures are out on a $75 million portion of a landmark settlement between the country's largest power company and the federal government and several states.

Ohio-based American Electric Power Co. will pay $24 million to eight states, $15 million in civil penalties and $36 million for various environmental protection projects, putting the finishing touches on a settlement reached in October.

The settlement also called for improvements to AEP's 16 sites at an estimated cost of $4.6 billion, making it the largest environmental enforcement settlement ever in terms of the value of the injunctive relief and emission reduction.

"My office makes polluters pay the price for endangering New Yorkers' health and environment, and in this case that includes paying a record $9.5 million to help us fight air pollution," said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

"By investing this money in green power, energy efficiency, and pollution reduction projects across the State, we will be providing a tremendous boost to efforts that will improve the quality of the air that New Yorkers breathe."

In addition to New York's share, Connecticut will receive $1.8 million, Maryland $1.2 million, Massachusetts $3.1 million, New Hampshire $1.2 million, New Jersey $4.2 million, Rhode Island $1.2 million and Vermont $1.8 million.

Each state will create a process to determine how the funds will be used.

"My office will work together with the Department of the Environment to develop targeted projects that will reduce pollution and increase energy efficiency," Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said.

The 1999 lawsuit alleged emissions from AEP's plants -- located in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky -- were spreading across the Northeast and violating the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act.

The settlement requires AEP to cut more than 800,000 tons of yearly air pollution. Cuomo says the pollutants have been linked to increases in asthma attacks and lung diseases, while contributing to acid rain.

Of the $36 million spent on various environmental projects, $3 million will go to reducing nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, Gansler said.

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