WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday a settlement with Dairyland Power Cooperative over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
The company will install $150 million in pollution control technology. The settlement also requires $5 million for environmental mitigation projects and a civil penalty of $950,000.
"This settlement will improve air quality in Wisconsin and downwind areas by significantly reducing releases of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other harmful pollutants," said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.
"This agreement also demonstrates the Justice Department's commitment to enforcing the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act, which help ensure cleaner air for those communities located near large sources of air pollution."
According to the EPA, this is the 22nd judicial settlement it has secured. This action is part of the EPA's increased - critics say overzealous - enforcement efforts to control harmful emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act's New Source Review requirements.
The EPA projects the total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emission reductions realized from this Dairyland settlement will exceed nearly 2 million tons each year after the pollution controls have been installed and implemented.
DPC must install pollution control technology on its three largest units and permanently retire three additional coal-fired units. The permanent retirement of these units will ensure that they do not restart without first complying with the Clean Air Act. This settlement covers all seven coal-fired boilers at DPC's three power plants.
The Sierra Club was a party to the settlement. The environmentalist organization is frequently involved in EPA litigation. It manages to become involved by using a provision in the Clean Air Act permitting private citizens to sue for violations.
DPC admitted no violations of law. It said in a written statement that it settled to avoid a lengthy litigation.
"A long, drawn-out legal battle would not be in the best financial interest of Dairyland's members and, since we had already begun adding hundreds of millions of dollars of air emission controls at our power plants, we agreed to work toward a settlement to reduce the risk of uncertain outcomes and the accompanying additional rate pressure for our cooperative consumers," said Bill Berg, President and CEO.
"Dairyland stands by its strong belief that our cooperative did not violate the law. The most important part of this consent decree is that it recognizes Dairyland's major investments in air emission controls at our plants and the significant emissions reductions that have already been achieved at our plants.
"It also formalizes a commitment for additional air emission controls on our facilities which are compatible with our existing plans."