TVA, N.C. AG close to settlement

Bryan Cohen Jun. 17, 2011, 4:52am


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper asked a federal judge on Thursday to sign off on a landmark settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to reduce air pollution in North Carolina.

If the consent decree is approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, TVA would pay North Carolina $11.2 million, ending a five-year legal battle. The process began with an effort by Cooper to get the TVA to clean up emissions from its coal-fired plants.

"This settlement is a significant victory for our state and its people," Cooper said. "Cleaner air means fewer sick days, lower health costs, more tourism, and healthier forests and waterways for North Carolina."

Cooper and the TVA entered into a settlement in April to resolve concerns about dirty air from TVA plants that allegedly clouded North Carolina skies and sickened its residents. Under the terms of the settlement, the TVA must reduce emissions by retiring at least 18 of its 59 coal units and installing and continuously operating emission-control equipment on nearly all its remaining units. The four TVA plants closest to North Carolina will be among the first to be shut down or controlled.

The TVA's $11.2 million will be used over the next five years for programs encouraging energy efficiency and reducing the demand for electricity.

Cooper originally filed the public nuisance lawsuit against the TVA in 2006, alleging that the coal-fired plants polluted North Carolina air, could lead to health problems and reduced tourism.

U.S. District Court Judge Lacy Thornburg ruled in North Carolina's favor in 2009. An appellate court reversed the decision later that year. North Carolina has agreed to withdraw a petition to review the decision in the United States Supreme Court once the settlement is approved by a federal court in Knoxville.

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