SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

March 24, 2011

EPA pursues Michigan's largest coal-fired plant

MONROE, Mich. — A Michigan utility spent $65 million last year replacing key parts at the state's largest coal-fired power plant. When regulators found out, they hauled the company into court for what it didn't do: Spend millions more at the same time to greatly eliminate air pollution.

The fight with DTE Energy isn't an isolated one. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department are aggressively suing electric utilities across the Midwest to get them to install the latest technology to capture smog-causing emissions.

The legal action is the latest shot in a decades-long conflict over bringing the utilities in line with the Clean Air Act. When Congress passed tougher standards in 1977, it allowed the industry to wait until older plants underwent a major overhaul before acquiring new anti-pollution equipment. The idea was that upgrades would be made gradually.

But more than three decades later, about half of U.S. coal-fired units — roughly 600 — lack advanced controls, EPA says. And years have been consumed in clashes among utilities, regulators and environmental groups over exactly what constitutes an overhaul and what is merely maintenance.

For people in Michigan and three other Midwestern states, court battles over pollution equipment could make a difference in the purity of air they breathe and the cost of electricity they use. The DTE case is set for trial this fall.

"What you're seeing is EPA's renewed vigor in enforcement of the Clean Air Act," said Cynthia Giles, an EPA assistant administrator. "The controls we're seeking to make companies install cost money. There are reasons for the industry to be pushing back. It's our job to insist on compliance."

In January, the EPA also sued utilities in Pennsylvania and Missouri. A case involving six coal-burning plants in Illinois is also pending. Meanwhile, there have been at least seven settlements since 2009 in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Kansas, with remedies ranging from cleaner fuel to millions of dollars in fines and pollution controls

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The Nation

AP Video
Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Obama Advisor Skips House Hearing Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted
NDN Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad